4. Technical Work
The bulk of your evaluation will be based on your technical skills and how much work are you able to accomplish during your internship. So, it’s important that you set yourself up to be able to finish your assigned work and produce quality code.
When you first start working on your project everything is new and you’ll have a lot of questions. Your first instinct might be to just tough it out and keep staring at it until you figure it out on your own. However, this is the wrong attitude to take, as you end up wasting a lot of time, and probably won’t be able to figure it out in the end.
Instead, after trying for a short amount of time (around 30 minutes), you should ask someone on your team for help. This gives you time to build a basic understanding of the problem without wasting lots of time. Your intern manager would prefer you ask for help early and move past the problem, rather than wasting an entire day staring at your screen. However, be sure to ask your questions intelligently — tell them what you’ve already tried, what worked, and what didn’t work. In addition, once you get an answer, make a note of it somewhere, so you have it for future reference.
Learn the tools
Becoming comfortable with your development tools is a great way to increase your productivity. Investing your time in learning your IDE’s keyboard shortcuts and customizing your terminal settings may not seem immediately important, but in the long-run, these will greatly increase your development speed. It may not seem important to learn something that only saves you a few minutes, but what if this few-minutes hassle is repeated several times a day? You’re better off learning how to resolve it at the beginning of your internship.
Be responsible for your work
As an intern, you might feel like your skills are not comparable to full-time engineers. As a result, you may feel like you should not be voicing your opinions or taking responsibility for your work.
This is a common misconception. Most interns are at the skill level of a junior engineer, if not higher.
When working on your project and talking to others on your team, do not be afraid to contribute to discussions and voice your concerns if you have something valuable to say. On the other hand, if you make a mistake or something is broken, it’s your responsibility to figure out how to resolve it. Don’t just sit back and wait for your manager or someone else to fix it for you.
Being an intern is about showing the company that you have the skills to work as a full-time employee. Taking responsibility for your work — both the good and the bad aspects of it — is the way to demonstrate this.
Ask for feedback
At some companies, you may have weekly or bi-weekly meetings with your intern manager where they give you feedback and let you know if you’re on track to meet your goals. If you are not at one of those companies, you need to explicitly ask for feedback. Ask your manager if they are willing to set up a recurring meeting in which they can give you feedback and steer you in the right direction.
When you receive feedback, it will probably be a mixture of positive and negative. Don’t be discouraged when your intern manager tells you what you need to improve on. You’re not expected to be perfect! Instead, your manager is simply giving you ways to improve — this does not imply that you are currently in a bad spot. There is always something that you can improve on, even if you are meeting your internship goals.