We are big fans of Jodi Glickman’s book Great on the Job, which addresses all facets of how to leverage communication to not only succeed, but get ahead at work. It’s a quick read, and we strongly suggest checking it out before you start your internship.
In the meantime, though, we have a few tips on how to go into your summer armed with communication strategies that will help you excel.
1. Listen: Focus to make sure your task is clear! Big issues often arise when someone works extremely hard to deliver something, only to find out that the deliverable doesn’t meet expectations. Use simple clarifying questions to identify what your supervisor needs.
2. Ask for what you want: Whether you’re looking for a specific assignment, a chance to present to a certain executive, or feedback on something you’re working on, the only way to get it is to ask. You may well get what you’re looking for, but even if you don’t, you’ll put yourself at the forefront of your superiors’ minds as a go-getter who is not afraid to ask for what you want.
3. Ask for help: Many employees fear asking for help will make them look incompetent. However, if you ask for help, you will instead come across as both smart and thoughtful. If you approach your employer and let them know that you don’t want to waste their time by completing a task in the wrong way, they will appreciate your consideration and candor; further, if you come armed with potential solutions (see #5 below) to your task and ask thoughtful questions about your next steps, they will appreciate your smarts even more.
4. Manage conflicts effectively: In every job, you’re going to run into a time when you don’t see eye to eye with somebody, whether it’s a peer, a subordinate, or a supervisor. In every circumstance, approach the conflict in a timely manner with respect, making it clear that you are dedicated to finding what is best for the team and company (not necessarily for you personally).
5. Propose solutions: Whether it’s a conflict situation or simply a challenging project, always be prepared to propose at least a couple of alternative solutions in order to work out any outstanding issues.
6. Check in regularly: Even if you think you’re on the right track, make a point of checking in with supervisors to not only confirm that you are, but lay out how much progress you’ve made on what you are working on.