Intern advice to my former self
Today I had a meeting with the Partner Director of Microsoft’s Azure IoT, and he asked me if I had any advice for future interns. I do.
There is no substitute to face-to-face, low activation energy, frequent interactions with your team. And the only way to do this is by sitting with them. Preferably, in a team room.
A number of my friends ended up sitting in intern rooms (i.e. chilling in a room of interns from various teams). While this is fantastic for socializing, I think college juniors have an obligation to forgo this benefit.
Those friends sitting in intern rooms:
- see their mentors1 less than once a week,
- see their managers less than once a week,
- have no one to ask for project-specific help or advice, and
- miss out on face-time, casual tech chats, and architectural input.
Meanwhile, sitting with my team has allowed me to:
- have an open dialog with my mentor, often communicating 10 to 15 times a day,
- talk with my manager at least once a day,
- use my mentor and team as a constant resource for project-specific help (as well as random questions)
- see everyone on my team everyday, chat about random topics such as Typescript’s future or the gross corners of Angular 2, and even pick up a few cool projects.
Tip #1. Insist on sitting with your team.
A lot of people have trouble asking for help—for me, it’s because asking for help means I’m admitting that (a) not everything is easy for me and (b) someone else is more knowledgeable/experienced than I am.
Whatever the reason, push past it. Your company hired you as an intern so you could learn—specifically, so you could learn from them. And your team accepted you as an intern because they know that, with the right amount of molding, your contributions will be more valuable than the amount of time they spend answering your questions.
So trust your team. Trust that they will be kind and caring, that they want you to succeed, that they know you’re an intern who doesn’t know as much as they do. It’s all part of the interning process.
Tip #2. Ask for help. A lot.
1: At Microsoft, a “mentor” is a team member tasked with guiding an intern through the day-to-day of intern life; “manager” is used in the usual sense.