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5 Tips For Your First IT Internship

5 Tips For Your First IT Internship

You’ve gotten your first IT internship, and it starts soon. How can you not only do well in this internship, but make it count towards your long term career success? Learn some tips for your first IT internship in this article.

1. Ask Lots of Questions

You know when people say “don’t ask stupid questions”? Well I don’t think that’s true at all. Especially when it comes to internships for your career. It’s better to ask as many questions as you can, even if they do seem stupid. To really learn a lot and do well in your internship, it’s a good idea to ask a lot of questions. Ask your boss, ask your colleagues, ask people you see around the office. This is the best way to learn. Word will get around that you’re the intern. Everyone knows what it’s like to start a new role, especially when you’re young, so they will likely offer their help. Asking lots of questions is a good way to learn about your role, the company, and the industry you’re working in.

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2. Make A Good Impression

This tip might seem pretty obvious, but it’s important to make a good impression. A good impression means making sure you create positive thoughts with your employer, both immediately and in the future. They should be able to think of you and immediately think that you are hard working and professional. This is important both for starting an IT internship and if you’re starting a new IT job. Some of the ways you can do this include:

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  • Dress professionally for the office. If you’re not sure what to wear, ask before you go to the job. The rules depend on the company’s dress code, which means you could be wearing a suit and tie, shirt with suit pants, or a collared shirt with jeans. Any combination like this is common in office environments, so make sure you find out which one is appropriate.
  • Arrive on time and don’t leave early. One of the most common mistakes young IT workers make is arriving late to work. It sends a very good message if you constantly arrive on time or early for your work day. If your day starts at 9, don’t arrive at 9:10, arrive at 8:45. It’s better to be early. Also, the same goes for leaving on time. It’s better to leave after your set finish time than before it.
  • Focus on work. Don’t let the distractions of the outside world interfere with you when you’re meant to be working. This includes phone calls, personal browsing, Facebook, sending text messages and running errands. Leave this for your lunch break or after work.

3. Take Lots Of Notes

When you start a new role as an IT intern, it can be quite overwhelming. It’s a good idea to get a pen and paper and take notes wherever you go. Write down the things that you learn, people’s names, systems, dates, plans, and decisions that are made. It’s useful to do this as it helps you remember things, it helps you learn, and it can help when looking back to things at a later date. Take your notepad and pen to any meetings you go to and take notes there. Bring it when you go to other people’s desks, in case you need to write something down. It might sounds like a lot of work, but if you’re able to remember something or help someone because of some notes you took, it makes it worthwhile.

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4. Find Out The Chances Of A Full Time Position

Many companies that offer internships also have openings for full time positions. These positions could start straight after the internship, or they could be available at a later date when the student graduates. Other organizations don’t offer a chance for these to turn into full time positions. Other companies only offer them to the best interns, with most of them missing out. A good thing to do while on your internship, perhaps near the end, is to find out the process for moving into a full time role. If you like the job you’re doing, or like the company and want to get a full time role with them, it’s a good idea to ask. Ask your boss how the process works, ask them if they offer full time positions to those interns who are interested. They should be able to tell you how it works, or show you someone who can. If all else fails, at least you got some good experience with a company, and you could even apply for a full time position when you graduate using the normal methods, such as via job ads.

5. Remember Everyone’s Name

A great way to stand out from other interns, and even other employees, is to remember everyone’s name. You’ll likely meet a lot of people on the job, and it can be hard to remember everyone’s name. It will be worthwhile if you can, though. Try writing them down after you meet them. Write down something that you remember them by (that isn’t personal or insulting). If you meed one of the General Managers, write down their name next to GM so you can remember. If you remember where they sit, or where you saw them, write that down too. Little notes like this can help you remember people’s names. Other people will also come to you and ask for names of others if you remember names well, which also makes you stand out.

I hope the tips in this article are useful to you if you’re starting an internship soon. Good luck!

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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