Cashing in on Your Internship: Advice from DLL’s Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson is the U.S. President of Healthcare, Clean Technology, Office Equipment and Technology Solutions at DLL, a global vendor finance company that delivers sustainable solutions for the complete asset lifestyle in industries ranging from food and agriculture to healthcare and clean technology.

Headquartered in the Netherlands, DLL has a presence in more than 30 countries around the world. As the world’s largest global vendor finance company, DLL relies on diverse points of view to maintain its collaborative environment and believes that investing in people allows them to flourish.

Amy has worked at DLL for over 17 years, embracing opportunities to grow and learn, and supporting others, as well. Here, she shares some of her insights, so that you can cash in on your internship experience!

At DLL, we strive to provide our interns with opportunities that will equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a full-time position. There’s nothing more valuable than challenging, hands-on experience that stretches a person’s abilities – after all, the best learning happens outside your comfort zone.

Here, I share with you some things I’ve noted from working with interns over the years, as well as things I wish someone had shared with me when I was starting out in my career.

Build Your Credit by Learning Their History
You’ve landed an internship – congratulations! Once you’ve had your orientation and learned the basics, make it a point to not only sit down with your manager to absorb some of his or her knowledge, but to also schedule individual meetings with different employees throughout various parts of the company. These meetings can help paint a clearer picture about the collective goals and business challenges of the organization, helping to better inform you about how your work can best contribute to the company.

Spread the Wealth!
While a great internship program is one of the tools many companies use to attract potential candidates early in their careers, it’s also an incredible opportunity for those companies to take advantage of the fresh perspectives these interns inject into the workforce—even if only for a short time each year. Sometimes people who have been doing something for 20 years are stuck in a rut and can wind up only doing things the way they’ve always been done. Are you working on a task that you think could be done more efficiently? Do you know about a tool that could make a job easier? Speak up! It’s possible that your different way of thinking about a problem could revolutionize the company. And even if it doesn’t, you’ll make an impression as someone who focuses on solutions.

Asking for Help Can Pay Dividends
At this point in your career, no one expects you to be an expert. There’s a steep learning curve in almost every internship, ranging from new colleagues and schedules to entirely new industries. Do whatever you can to teach yourself about the industry and the work you’ve been assigned, but don’t be afraid to ask questions, either. At several times in my life, I remember spending hours upon hours trying to figure something out myself—time I could have avoided wasting by simply having a 5-minute conversation with my manager or a colleague. Learn from my mistakes! It’s ALWAYS better to ask for clarification than to waste time and frustrate yourself trying to prove you know what you’re doing.

Own Your Wins, Lease Your Failures
Celebrate your wins throughout your internship. Did your manager or an executive within the organization pay you a nice compliment via email? Create a “smile file” in your inbox and hang on to it! But just as importantly – don’t hold on too tightly to your failures. Failure is necessary – accept it and learn from mistakes, but don’t let them define you or hold you back from taking chances. Ultimately, being willing to push boundaries and try new ideas are the behaviors that result in huge wins.

Start Investing in Your Network
Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and get to know others within your organization. Most people are more than happy to help, but it’s up to you to make the connections. Sign up for events and outings where you can get additional facetime with other members of the organization and connect on LinkedIn as soon as possible after meeting a new colleague, while you’re still fresh in their mind. You never know which connection can open a door later in your career.

Getting the Best ROI
Just like most things in life, what you get out of your internship depends on what you put into it. Volunteer for extra projects that interest you, even if they may be a bit outside your normal scope of work. Most likely you have more free time now than you ever will again, so use it wisely. See another team or department that looks interesting? Ask your manager or the program leader if you can meet with someone from that group to learn more. These opportunities create a well-rounded experience, equipping you with a wealth of knowledge that can help shape your career path.

The Bottom Line
The most important aspect of an internship is not necessarily what you provide to the company, but what you take away. Internships provide the perfect opportunity to better understand the type of workplace that suits you. DLL embraces a collaborative, open environment, but that’s not always a comfortable fit for everyone. Is flexibility important to you or do you need firm structure? Do you work best in a group setting or prefer to concentrate alone? These are all important things you can get a feel for during an internship. What was your favorite project or task? Do you prefer having several irons in the fire or to devote the majority of your time to one project at a time? Use these insights to direct the choices you make about your career. This self-understanding and the relationships you build are the two most valuable things you can take away from your internship experience.

From me and all of DLL, best of luck during this exciting time in your life. We’re rooting for you!

This is a guest post written by DLL.

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