It’s your first day at your sports internship with an apparel company. You’re going into a meeting, tasked with taking notes for your department manager. Afterward, you report back to her to get her up to speed.
This is when you freeze. You feel intimidated. Over your head. Uncomfortable.
If these fears hold you back, you’re just another timid intern. However, this isn’t how it has to be.
Instead, make the most of this opportunity. You can even turn your sports internship into a full-time job offer.
In fact, as a 2016 survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers found, this isn’t uncommon — the average offer rate to interns is 73 percent, which is the highest it’s been since the pre-recession market.
Your relationship with leadership is crucial if you want to earn an offer, or at the very least, earn a professional recommendation. A strong rapport starts with communication.
As a matter of fact, 30 percent of employers said in our 2017 survey, communication is the top soft skill candidates have. By learning how to communicate effectively with leadership, you can make a positive impression.
Here’s how you can be a strong communicator with leadership during your sports internship:
Schedule Time First
Instead of avoiding leadership, make it a priority to get some one-on-one time with them. This is a great way to break down barriers and establish a relationship.
Chances are, your manager has a packed worked day, so you need to ensure they save time for you. Be clear about what you intend to discuss with them and schedule to meet on a regular basis.
They will be impressed if you want to set up a weekly or monthly check-in. It shows you’re invested in being your best and interested in growth.
During these sit-downs, be proactive and ask for their input on your performance. Frame your question in a way that shows your interest in developing your skills, but also note your strengths.
For example, reflect on a project you completed and ask leadership for where you could make improvements. Highlight how you felt confident in your approach and describe why you liked aspects of the task.
Then, open the floor. Ask where they think you can streamline your process or what aspects you could do more in.
Share Your Goals
As an intern, you should be developing your short and long-term career goals. Defining your mission and values is essential to career management. When you have a clear strategy, share your goals with leadership.
Bring it up when you meet with them, and make it clear that you want to grow with their company. Be specific about how you deliver value and how you want to earn more responsibilities as you gain experience.
Additionally, share your professional goals with supervisors and colleagues. You want the company to know you as ambitious and driven.
Don’t Forget Informal Talk
At the same time, be sure to connect with your leaders on a personal, informal level. Don’t feel like you need to be guarded all the time and force a disingenuous, formal conversation during every interaction.
Smiling shows that you’re comfortable and happy to be working there. When you interact with leadership throughout the day, stay engaged and greet them.
For example, if you see a leader walk by your office, acknowledge them. If your company hosts a lunch, talk about your hobbies and ask about theirs.
Don’t forget that your sports internship gives you a chance to fit into a culture. Show that you’re one of them.
If you have ideas, share them. For example, if you notice a better way to process invoices, offer suggestions to leadership.
You also may feel the impulse to speak up during a meeting if you have insights. Don’t just sit quietly by. Be assertive and share your input in a respectful way. If you’re asked directly, it’s best to have a well-formed opinion instead of being indecisive.
Make the most of your sports internship by exhibiting a positive attitude and strong work ethic. Remember, you’re working in your first big professional opportunity, so have fun with it.
Leaders will notice when you’re enthusiastic. An energetic passion can even be contagious. If you’re surrounded by people who have lower energy levels and are disengaged, stay true to your spirit and bring enthusiasm everyday.
By proving strong communication skills with leadership, you’re going to stand out as an A player. When a role opens or when you need a recommendation, you will feel comfortable approaching leadership for their help. This is just the first step in building your amazing sports career.
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