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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Palmer


Transitions. It is that time of year: graduations, internships, new jobs. A lot of people going through a lot of change. Transitions can be a time of excitement and anticipation, but also anxiety and stress. As I prepare to speak to a summer internship class of 90 college level interns, I thought about what they will need to be successful over the coming 10 weeks. These same messages are relevant to recent grads entering the professional workforce as well.

  1. The Perfect Storm. You are entering a new job, in a new industry, as first-time professionals, as remote only workers, during a global pandemic. It is okay to feel overwhelmed by the uniqueness of this particular experience.

  2. You Get Out What You Put In. Be open to new experiences, lean in and raise your hand for opportunities; get the most out of your time at your internship.

  3. Opportunities Abound. This is a chance to learn, contribute, create bandwidth for your team, offer a fresh perspective, earn trust, own foundational tasks, push beyond your comfort zone. Whatever scares you most may be the space in which you grow the most.

  4. What’s in Your Tool Box? You have a multitude of tools to draw upon:

    • Focus & Time Management. Focus on the work worth doing by aligning with your manager and team on where you can make the most valuable contributions.

    • Delegation. Earn trust for each task delegated to you by aligning on expectations, gaining clarity and paying attention to detail and timelines.

    • Feedback. Be open to feedback. Feedback is an investment in your development and a chance to course correct.

    • Your Brand. How do you want to show up and be seen by your co-workers? Identify how you want to be viewed, make a list of your top personal attributes: hard working, positive attitude, solutions-oriented, curious, engaged, eager, thoughtful, collaborative … Post the list and check yourself each day. What have you done to live your values? Assure that you are showing up authentically to your brand.

    • Listening. Two ears, one mouth. It is a good reminder to listen twice as much as you speak. Listen for direction, insights and alignment. Ask open-ended questions. Actively listen, hearing what is said and not thinking about your reaction.

    • Build Relationships. While it may be more challenging to connect in a remote workplace, if you are intentional, you can network and build professional relationships with your co-workers and cohort. Ask for introductions, reach out with a specific ask for a short ‘coffee’ or ‘walking’ meet up, follow up with interesting presenters and co-workers, ask others about their experience, advice, what industry news they follow or newsletters they subscribe to. What have you got to lose by reaching out?

    • Attitude. You have 100% control and choice over your perspective, your attitude and how you show up. A positive attitude costs you nothing and yields high return.

Whatever your transition may be, take full advantage, look at challenges as opportunities, and fully engage with the resources available to you – including managers, existing employees, co-workers, and mentors. And if you are one of those, remember that the perfect storm makes transitions even harder for new hires and interns. Do your best to reach out and support around the virtual water cooler.

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