This post is part one in a two-part series from Joanne Mortell outlining her internship experience at Dell and key takeaways for those who will be participating in any intern program while they’re in school. Check out her top tips below and stay tuned for her story in part 2.
When some people hear the word intern they think of a baby-faced student fresh out of college, sticking stamps on envelopes or running to get coffee. Thankfully, that is not what interns mean to Dell. Dell thinks highly of their interns, so highly in fact that the company is putting a lot of effort and resources toward the internship experience in the hope that interns will want to return to Dell as full time graduates. Dell envisions your internship as an excellent opportunity to try out a career field, build skills, grow your network and potentially become employed at the same company full-time after graduation.
Based on my own internship experience in the Limerick campus, here are my top tips for thriving and shining bright during your internship at Dell.
Preparation and planning are key
- Preparation and planning are crucial both prior to your internship. Before you start, be sure to get yourself organized – both physically and mentally. Ensure you have the suitable attire and materials. Don’t be the intern who shows up to the office on the first day in a wrinkly shirt with no pen!
- Get a feel for the campus culture before your start date. An ideal opportunity to do this is during your interview, if you get a chance to visit the site. Take notice of the environment, the atmosphere and the way in which people act. Take it a step further and ask the interviewer what the general feel around the site is.
- Three to four weeks prior to your departure start investigating graduate programmes available on site for the following year. Once you have an idea of potential roles, arrange to meet with someone within the program you are interested in introduce yourself and better understand the job. This gives both you and a potential colleague or manager the opportunity to get to know each other prior to you applying for your next program or role
- During meetings, when information is flying over your head and you may not want to ask a question– document it and question it later with a colleague.
- Paying attention to key practices and procedures or key terms and buzz words in your role will make learning easier for you by having something solid to go back to.
- Documenting your day-to-day activities will make reviewing your internship much easier. Take note of meetings you attended, calls you took, training courses and events you attended. Day over day, it may not seem to add up but when you look at a full month, it amounts to a lot of work! This makes it easier to update your resume and speak to managers and potential manager about the work you’ve been doing.
Take advantage of your one-on-one meetings
- They may seem a little awkward at first, but your regular one-on-one meetings with your manager will be key to your success as an intern. As the weeks of your internship progress, these meetings offer a good place to explore your development and growth as an intern and potential future career paths. Your manager has been at the company longer than you have so be sure to tap into your manager’s experience, knowledge and network. Building a good relationship with your manager is fundamental to your current and future success at the company.
- Equally important is having regular one-on-ones with all your team members or direct co-workers in the first two weeks of your internship. This isn’t something that is suggested by every manager but it is something I am delighted I did. Setting aside a half an hour to sit and chat allows you to get to know the people you work with, get a little insight into their life and vice versa.
Get stuck in.
- When you have begun to settle into your internship role, look into activities outside the day job like company sporting teams, charitable events, fundraising and team building events. Sometimes, it is this extracurricular work that gets you noticed as an employee rather than your normal nine-to-five job. These events are fun, light-hearted and it not only helps you in your career, but you also have an opportunity to give back to the community.
- Be sure to showcase your involvement in these events by taking appropriate group pictures and posting them to LinkedIn and Chatter to let everyone know how integrated you are in the company.
Network, network, network!
- Building your own network is the most essential thing that you must do during your internship. If you want to return as a graduate in a few months’ time, it is critical that you have a good solid network built inside the organization. Building a network can be difficult – the important thing here is to think ahead to a time when you will either want a reference from someone in the company or when you will want to return as a full time employee.
- I found LinkedIn to be an extremely useful tool to help me build my network within the company. In my first few days as an intern, one of my colleagues gave me some great advice: as soon as you speak or work with someone, you should connect with them on LinkedIn within twenty-four hours. Another useful feature of LinkedIn is the way I which you can ask colleagues for recommendations. It can be a bit nervy asking people for recommendations but just remember – at some stage or another, these people asked others for recommendations too.
- Joining onsite groups is another fantastic way of building your network – especially outside of your own business unit. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are made up of people from varying departments with different experiences and backgrounds. In my first few weeks at Dell, I joined the Innovation group onsite in Limerick and began working on a project that brought about two fantastic outcomes: an employee award and a relationship with a manager who supported and recommended me during my graduate recruitment process. Be sure to ask a mentor what onsite groups are available to you.
Stay connected, even after you have left
- Staying in touch with your colleagues is key if you want to apply for a full-time position at Dell. Consider it “keeping a foot in the door” and the best way to do this is through LinkedIn. If people see your name popping up on their newsfeed every now and then, you are sure to be remembered. Keeping up to date and engaging with the latest company news is equally important. This is a great way of forward planning for when interview time comes around again you are already well informed of what has been going on since your departure as an intern.
It is important to remember that while you may not be exactly where you want to be yet, the internship experience is one of the most important pieces of the foundation you are building for a successful career.
Did you have an excellent intern experience during your career? Tell us about it and learn more about charting your career at dell.com/careers
Joanne serves as a Global Product Services Offer Manager in the Global Offer Master Data department of Dell. In this role, Joanne is responsible for services SKU creation for Network and Storage products in the EMEA region, which at a high level, ensures customers have the capability to purchase complimenting services for their products on the online store. Having studied a Masters in Management & Marketing in University College Cork in early 2015, Joanne is relatively new to Dell and has recently transitioned from an Intern to a full time Graduate employee at Dell. Joanne is an avid blogger and is the founder of her own blog which showcases the latest news, trends and tips from the business world to a target audience of young professional females.