Dear Future Fellow Female Interns,
Dear future fellow female interns,
(That’s a mouthful!)
Congratulations - you’ve got the job!! I’m sure you’re excited, if not a little daunted, but I guarantee that you can make the best out of any internship situation.
But wait, there’s more… other awesome, intelligent, and proactive female interns who got the job alongside you!
This is how I felt before my fall internship had started. I was transitioning into a new role and company but I was not alone in doing so. I had two CMC peers to talk things through, practice presentations, and stand up for me at work. We were united and, honestly, for me, it makes the biggest difference in the world in a male-dominated, somewhat intimidating environment.
Thus, this article is to share with all interns - male and female- 5 best practices to support, uplift, and empower your female colleagues.
1. Talk about your personal interests and career passions with your intern cohort
The only way you’re going to learn about each other is if you share that information; the more you open up about where you see yourself in 5 years; how nervous you might have been before you started the job; or your favorite post-work binge TV show (Money Heist, all the way!), the more that other interns will feel comfortable sharing their aspirations and vulnerabilities too.
To give you an actionable example, at your next intern lunch pose a question to the table: “if you weren’t spending the summer here, what would you be doing?” or “what is a hobby you’d like to turn into a career?”
This may just seem like a typical conversation, but by actively listening and being honest about yourself, you learn how you could support a friend. Perhaps, one intern shared her desire to meet a Marketing manager but is too shy; luckily you’re on the marketing team and can casually make an introduction. Another day, a colleague might bring prep materials about consulting interviews because they know you were asking around for help. It’s all in you opening up and creating rapport.
2. Bring each other into the room
This practice is an extension of listening and supporting your colleagues' interests. Oftentimes, bringing other interns on meetings is too difficult; maybe you’re the only intern who can be there or you networked your way into the meeting in the first place. But, there are times when you can suggest to your manager that X is interested in GTM strategy and would it be possible for them to tag along the entire team meeting. If information is not confidential, you can always share meeting anecdotes and notes you took with interested interns. It helps “bring them into the room” without them actually being there.
On the flip side, be a strong advocate and share with your fellow interns or manager that you want to learn more about what a typical HR or Engineering meeting looks like. You may receive more information or get to shadow these meetings in the future. It’s all about sharing opportunities with people who deserve it too.
3. Attend workplace events together
It’s definitely scary when you’ve been invited to an event, either at or after work and you have nobody to attend with. I’ve been there before, and if you’re in a challenging work environment, it’s hard to connect with some of the employees.
It’s really important to go in an intern cohort so that you can network together. When you’re chatting with a senior employee, hype up your fellow intern and talk about the work they’ve been doing.
Additionally, it’s fun to go to events with other people; whether it’s a coffee chat, a formal dinner, or an offsite retreat, you can relax with interns going through the same stressors as you! It’s all about finding a balance between professionalism and fun with your interns.
4. Speak up for each other
There’s no doubt that sexism, racism, ageism, etc. occur in the workplace. I’ve experienced it first hand and wish I had either spoken up or had someone say something for me. During my fall internship, I was spoken to fairly harshly for no apparent reason. I shared my frustrations with my intern friends, and other women in the workplace stood up for me, which felt incredibly empowering. There is no best practice on how to do this, except for being an open listener and active bystander, but know that all interns especially women- will thank you for it. It’s all about doing the right thing and making sure someone knows you’re an advocate.
5. Don't be sneaky!
Of course you want to be the best intern, or be rehired, or get a stellar recommendation. But being sneaky and undermining other interns is not the way to go here. Although you might feel pressure to want to keep information to yourself, or not help another intern with a presentation (we all think these things, and it’s natural!), always think about how you want to be treated by your fellow interns.
One small, concrete example during my fall internship was our last week. I always give cards and gifts to people who helped and made an impact on me at the end of an internship, and guessed that this might not be top of mind for the other interns in my team. So, I brought them in on the idea and we created joint cards with our faces printed on them for people we all knew and had interacted with. They were a hit!
Personally, I made sure to update my closest intern friends if I was heading into a cool meeting, had met an executive, or was scheduling a coffee chat. I didn’t need to share all the details, but in case they wanted to do the same, my actions prompted them in that direction.
It’s all about acting with candor and compassion.
And so, as a final tip to all future fellow female interns: know that it’s okay to ask for help. In my personal experience, I was thrilled to have such supportive intern friends to practice crucial conversations, cry with after a hard day's work, or revel in our successes.
I’ve included a picture below of the awesome ladies who can definitely speak to the power of supportive interns :)