Home > Career Advancement, College Years, Job Hunting, My First Time > A Good NAME for your Internship; A Good TEAM for your Job

A Good NAME for your Internship; A Good TEAM for your Job

I was at this Womensphere Summit on Emerging Global Leaders this past Saturday and the beautiful lady sitting beside me is a junior at Brown University majoring in International Relations (no surprise), and she is freaking out about what she is going to do for the rest of her life, especially when everyone starts talking about passion and building a solid career path.

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This may be the stage you are at in your life and you are thinking about the same issues and you may be freaking out too, and if I were right, you actually go to a great school with top programs and your grades are decent. But you are still freaking out. Why? I know. I’ve been there before: There are simply too many options, and you could potentially do anything and everything. But you have no clue what you really want and how you should make such decisions.

Ok so here are some well-tested advices (by my own experience and by many others) on how to figure out your passion and make decisions on your junior internship and more importantly, your first full-time job. Bear with me.

 

Find a good NAME for your internship

Remember this: the internship is NOT the end of your life. You DON’T need to figure out what you want to do for the REST of your life in order to have a good internship experience. If you are confused, don’t worry about location (unless you want the internship to turn into a full-time), and forget about the industry (at entry-level you are pretty much doing the same ground work anyway), but the most important thing that you SHOULD care about is: the NAME of the company.

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A good name is a solid resume building no matter what. If you can’t get into MS NY, try MS HK; if you can’t get into BCG, try PwC Advisory (also consulting and PwC is a solid name no matter what); if you can’t get into GSAM portfolio management team, try BlackRock portfolio analytics or risk analytics. Have at least ONE name on your resume that is well-known and a leader in a given industry.  

And while you are there as an intern, try to get on high-profile projects, take initiatives to build networks beyond the team you are working with, and most importantly, focus on deliverables (models, reports, excel spreadsheets, memos) and transferrable skills (presentation and communication skills)!

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When the time comes, you don’t even have to apply to the same industry for your full-time job, but what counts is that EVERYONE knows these names. As a matter of fact, doing an internship in an industry you might be interested in is the BEST way to figure out if you want to see yourself coming back, and many cases you DO NOT want to go back yourself! So having a solid name here will help you with your career endeavors elsewhere too!

 

Find a good TEAM for your first full-time job

Many people ignore how crucial it is to LOVE the team and the people you will be working with for your first full-time job. This is BY FAR the most important quality you should be looking for when making the decision to accept the offer or not. Your first full-time job, being entry-level and being on the bottom of the pyramid, you WILL spend long hours, you WILL be doing things you totally do not enjoy doing (regardless of industry and position), but it will make your life SO MUCH easier if you actually like the people you work with, and who simply treat you well.

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You might still be fascinated by a position at investment banking, and it’s normal to have short memories (think about Lehman and BS, but then again this is normal because even institutional investors are all over the place looking at alternative investments again). But it is NOT uncommon for people to quit just a few months into the job, and a few of my friends already started thinking about exit strategies before finishing up their first year.

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If your full time job is quite different from your internship, DO FIND SOMEONE you can talk to in an informal way for informational purposes before joining the team and be smart with your questions: Understand the culture of the team, understand how much attention senior management gives to junior people, understand the hours, the ratios, how often they get together for fun, what kind of recent projects they have been working on, does the team interact a lot with other departments in the firm, is it easy to transfer to another group, do people always leave after 2 or 3 years? These are important questions you should ask BEFORE signing your life away if you do care about your own career path and still want a life outside of work!

 

Finally, breathe.  

Trust me on one thing: The decisions you are making and steps you need to go through may not make immediate sense to you now. But when you look back at these experiences some day in the future, you WILL BE able to connect all the dots.

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  1. Yvonne
    January 25, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Just a random note:
    You spelled TOEFL wrong on http://www.linkedin.com/in/danyewang.

    Hope you don’t mind…it’s totally random!

    • January 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      You are right! I appreciate the note and I just edited my LinkedIn. Thanks for pointing this out!

  2. Crunchykapo
    January 25, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    What if I sign my life away to the only full time offer I have and I hate it very much now no matter what. Plus, the stuff I do and things I learn every day are not transferable at all – no deliverables, maybe a bit communication skills. Would you suggest I suck it up for a few years or actively look for another opportunity start from now? I am afraid if I dont start looking, my extremely limited knowledge/skills will make all employers reject me in the future. Any advice is appreciated!

    • January 26, 2011 at 12:59 am

      I understand where you are coming from and I have a couple of thoughts for you to consider:
      1) how long have you been on the job? If just a few months, it may be normal and even standard to do “shitty work”. I suggest talking to someone on your team 2 or 3 years into the job and see if the responsibilities have changed for them. If there’s a shift, see if you’ll like what they are doing as a 2nd or 3rd year.

      2) take initiatives to build network and connections beyond your own team, if you work for a relatively big firm. If you are at the back office, try to find opportunities through internal communitieis, networks, and other introductions to talk to people from teams that you may want to transfer to.

      3) work on your attitude. If you have a positive attitude, you will find meanings in even seemingly tedious jobs. If you have a negative attidue, even fun responsibilities will be burdensome for you. you know what I mean. I personally know quite a few people who started off as just an administrative assistant but then become an investment banker or senior manager. Trust that you CAN find meanings in the most trival tasks if you focus on the big picture of the business. The direction and the shape of your career is at your own hand, so use it wisely (by being positive!).

      Make sense? Let me know what you think.

  3. Sandy A.
    January 27, 2011 at 10:19 am

    __-_-__-__-_—____-____–_-_-

    Great website! I think there are many valuable information and advices here. Along the same line, I came across the following website which I found interesting. Traditionally, personality tests such as MBTI have been used as career aptitude test. However, these tests have a very limited scope as they ignore many important factors such as person’s skills, values, and interests.

    There have been many advancements in the area of career aptitude testing. Usage of artificial intelligence to evaluate suitability of a job for a person is one of the these techniques. You can take a complete version of the MBTI personality test plus many others such as memory, IQ, problem solving, and patience tests in OptYourLife. This website’s expert system tries to find the most suitable career path for you using neural network. Moreover, salary of different careers will be considered in the final analysis to provide a more insightful advice for you:

    http://www.optyourlife [dot] com/

    –__-___–_-_—__—___——

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