Internship Tips Straight From the Recruiter!

We’re well into summer, and most of us Esri interns are in the middle of our internships. Whether you are heading back to school in the fall or you are looking for a full time position, it is important that you give an internship everything you’ve got! In this interview with Lara McLaughlin, Esri’s Internship Program Coordinator and University Recruiter, you will hear what to do and what not to do as an intern from someone who works with students year round.

Describe your role at Esri.

This is my third year here, and since starting I have made a lot of changes to the internship program. I managed the internship program for my previous employer, so Esri hired me specifically to work on the program. Every year I am tasked with finding students and recent grads who may fit into Esri internships, and then I forward their resumes to hiring managers to see if they are a good match for their specific position.

What makes an internship during college so important?

First of all, you have something extra to put on your resume. I look at a lot of resumes, and when I see that a student has had internship experience it gives them an edge over other applicants. But the experience is not the only benefit of an internship. For you as the intern, working in an actual business environment is a short period of trial and error and is an opportunity to get your foot in the door, if you are interested in working for that employer full-time after graduation. Internships are a great way to have a 12-week interview. I say, get as many internships as you can while you are in school! Even if you don’t love what you are doing, use the internship to course correct your career path, make connections, find a mentor, or just get some great references for the future.

Once a student secures an internship, what should they do before it begins?

Hopefully you have researched the company already! That’s key. You may have known enough to answer some interview questions, but it will be really important for you to know details about the company when you start. You never know how that information might help you. It also never hurts to ask either the person who hired you or the person who will be your manager if there’s anything you can be doing to get ready. They may send you articles to read or suggest new things you may be able to teach yourself. Any way you can find out more about the role to hit the ground running before you start is a great way to show your ambition early on.

What about after the internship?

Definitely keep in touch–not only with your supervisor, but with the people who hired you and anyone else you may have made a strong connection with. If you are interested in a full time role, make sure they know. Typically, we tell our interns to take a look at the Esri careers website to see if there are any positions that fit what they are looking for. If you are an excellent student and you did well during your internship, we will work with you to try to find a position that aligns with your career goals. And many companies will do the same. Great companies want great people.

What are some common mistakes interns make?

One mistake interns might make would be missing deadlines. And not just work deadlines, but getting to work on time and being on time for meetings and such. Meeting project deadlines and not underestimating how long a project might take is very important. Chances are, your deadline is the company’s deadline, or close to it, and the end product may be riding on you.

Something else would be not speaking up when you don’t have enough to do or when you need clarification. Honestly, there are no dumb questions when you are learning. You may want to prove yourself, but if you do something entirely wrong it doesn’t look good. This is also the time to prove you are a hard worker. If you finish something and don’t have anything else to do, ask for more. If your supervisor doesn’t have anything at the moment, see if you can ask others in the office. There’s always work to be done somewhere and it is a great way to cross train.

Lastly, be professional with your email! Texting is one thing, but remember that paragraphs and punctuation are important in a business setting.

What’s your best advice for someone who wants to really stand out?

There are many things you can do to stand out, but something that has caught my attention in the past is interns who anticipate needs or show interest in doing other things. Let’s say, for example, your manager asks you to count up the different types of blog posts your company did last year. That’s simple; it’s just a number, right? One way to go above and beyond would be to count them up, see which categories they fell into, analyze if there were any blogs that got more attention than others, and then make a suggestion for some future posts. That will show your manager you were thinking ahead, and you will have probably moved on to the next task they were going to give you. It may not always be the easiest thing to do, but sometimes it’s just about taking one little extra step.

What makes Esri’s internship program stand out?

What’s great about Esri is that employees are very approachable. When an intern has a question or may be interested in talking to someone higher up in their field, that conversation can happen easily over lunch. There is a lot of knowledge to be shared at Esri, and community is a real part of our culture.

Additionally, and this is partially because Esri is able to hire so many interns (105 this year!), we really focus on giving the interns time to get to know one another. We know that interns are generally close in age and can relate to one another, no matter what department they are in. Also, our interns come from all over the world and we want to help everyone feel connected during the short time they’re with Esri.

Lastly, I think we do a good job of immersing interns into the company. We invite them to be part of Esri events, they travel to our User Conference for at least a day, and we set up company presentations for them so they see the cool stuff going on.

Have a question for Lara? Email her at Interested in applying for a summer internship next year? We’ll have information on the website this fall.

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