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Developing Others

Making The Most of Summer Internships: Part 1. Professional Tips & Advice

By Developing Others, Leadership, Mentorship, Planning, Resources One Comment

It’s summer internship season–new places, new faces, and hard-won opportunities await many students–including hundreds of our members nationwide. As an organization concerned with diversifying financial services, increasing equity, and promoting inclusion, we’re excited to see across-the-board increases in compensation for financial services interns, despite economic uncertainty. 

There’s ample advice on how to land coveted internships (and at Scholars of Finance, we spend a lot of time helping each other with recruiting, networking, and interviewing). But there’s comparatively less advice on what to do once you’ve started your internship. In this post, we’ve compiled advice from not only the SOF community, but across the finance industry (and even beyond) to answer common questions like:

  • What should I do now? 
  • What should I be preparing for next?
  • What do I need to accomplish?
  • How much should I learn this summer?
  • How do I make the most out of my internship?
  • How do I ensure a healthy work-life balance?
  • How do I make friends & professional connections?
  • How do I network with my new colleagues?
  • How do I get a return offer? 

Part 1.
Advice from The Scholars of Finance Community

Our Co-Founder & CEO, Ross Overline, says it’s important to focus on self-reflection and gratitude at the beginning of a new endeavor, including an internship. In a recent commentary on humility, one of our organizational values, Ross offered the following practical tips: 

  • Take an inventory of your strengths and your weaknesses, perhaps with 15 minutes of journaling time this week.
  • Ask a few people in your life for 360 feedback. Find out what your mentors, family, friends, and other peers think about you holistically. 

Stephen Sorenson, our COO, has also shared extensive advice about maximizing the value and impact of internships, including for SOF’s very own national interns. One practical piece of advice Stephen offers that we think is especially valuable is: 

  • Create a personal document where you can consolidate all of your personal and professional learning, including feedback from friends and family. 

If you’d like to implement Stephen’s advice, we love these Notion templates for personal development.

Our student members have some excellent advice, too. We especially appreciated these practical, self-reflective tips on managing up and taking control of schedules and priorities.

  • Be proactive as an intern (manage-up) and take control of your tasks/workload. As both a student and an intern, the onus is on each of us to coordinate, manage, and plan our schedules around upcoming work streams and sprints.
  • As leaders we all have a responsibility to allow for uncertainty in our schedules and be able to dedicate time to urgent projects within our planned days. Plan ahead of deadlines and allow extra time for things in your day. 

Of course, knowing what you need to do is different from actually doing it, so if you’re looking for ways to improve your executive skills like time management, planning, and prioritization, we love these two very short videos: How To Prioritize Tasks Effectively that explains prioritization using The Eisenhower Matrix; and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Animated Summary that explains the connections between mindsets and habits. 

Part 2.
(Highly Curated) Advice from the Twitterverse

Twitter might be awash in bad takes, but it’s also packed with first-hand wisdom and refreshingly candid advice–and the topic of internships is no exception. We combed through Twitter to curate some of the best advice (‘best’ is a combination of mostly our own judgment and analysis, plus a little bit of how the rest of the Twitterverse reacted). 

  • Be a go-getter, but be smart & strategic about whom you reach out to, and also how, when, and why you reach out. We love this thread from Amy Cheetham, Partner at Costanoa Ventures, on how she broke into finance at J.P. Morgan using cold email. However, be sure to be mindful of everyone’s time as well.

    Our favorite tip, related to our value of humility: “Follow-up. Many times people will provide help or assistance and then the person they helped will never follow-up. Don’t be that person. Let the person know how they helped and thank them — maybe by keeping them in the loop you’ll build a long-term relationship.”

    “When should I follow up and what should I say?” is a frequent question students ask. Our recommendation is to follow up whenever you feel like you have something to share that conveys genuine gratitude; for example, if a mentor taught you a new skill and you then applied that skill successfully to a project, you might quickly write your mentor to let them know how that skill helped you, what you were able to achieve thanks to their help, and to reiterate your ongoing gratitude for their mentorship.
  • Systematize your networking process and make technology your friend, rather than relying on your memory. Patrick Malone, MD-PHD, drops some highly concrete advice in this thread on how to create a ‘personal CRM’ (CRM = contact/customer relationship management) in a platform like Notion to help keep track of connections to build long-term value.

Our favorite tip, related to our value of integrity: “One piece of advice for systematizing networking: maintain a personal CRM. For each person I connect with, I tag things like their background/expertise, location, and when we last connected so I’m reminded to reach back out to catch up.”

For a student in a finance internship, we could imagine how creating something like a simple conversation tracking spreadsheet, would help to recall important details about peers and mentors for future interactions. 

Part 3.
Recommended Reading

We hope this curation and analysis of advice helps you to have an impactful, rewarding, and successful internship experience. If you’re still hungry for more advice, we’ve compiled a list of recommended articles below. 

From all of us at Scholars of Finance, we wish you a purpose-filled, productive, and positive summer internship experience filled with new relationships, personal growth, professional development, and lots of fun!

Look out for a bonus part 2 post soon on personal growth & self-care tips for your internship! 

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