Here at First County Bank, we have been fortunate enough in the last several years to be able to enjoy the talents of several young interns looking to broaden their skill sets with “real life” work experiences. Some are high-school students and others are recent college graduates looking for an opportunity to help bridge the gap between school and a career. One of the most asked questions from ambitious students during the interview process are “how can I distinguish myself in the company”? That’s always been an easy one to answer and I think the answer is the same if you’ve been out of school for one year or twenty years.
To move from meeting instructors’ requirements for a passing grade to excelling in your career, you have to figure out two things. First, find a way to raise the expectations your employer has of you and secondly, exceed the expectations of your boss. Simply said, figure out a way for your supervisor to look good and your team to be more effective.
Here at the Bank, a great example would be for an intern to not only provide financial analysis for a loan transaction but to expand his or her work to include industry peers, comparative data, market conditions, technology game-changers, etc. Always strive to make your work compelling and thoughtful.
Keep in mind that while it is important to stand out as an overachiever, being perceived as a team player is key when starting out in business. The camaraderie established between co-workers working together toward a shared goal is priceless and will help you to remain seen as a valued member of the team. Reaching high the right way—which means with respect for the work of others—will ultimately help you distinguish yourself and improve the work of your team without alienating your peers.
Your short and long-term performance drives success in business but your personal image – your brand – needs to be managed as exposure to customers, peers, senior management, vendors, etc. is just as important. Be visible by impressing your boss while playing nice in the sandbox.