How to become a superhero intern – and get a return offer in 4 weeks

You have found an internship. May be it’s your top 3 company. Or may be it isn’t. Or, may be you just couldn’t find anything so you have decided to take this on. 

Whichever cases, you want to make the most out of it. But you are not sure what to do. 

So, I am writing a superhero guide for internship based on our research, observations, and experience of working with superhero interns. The interns are called superhero because they perform and carry themselves like a good analyst.   

Here comes my ideas on how to become a superhero intern and get return offer in 4 weeks.

How to use it?

Take one step a week and build on it gradually. While in reality you may actually do a portion of the 4 steps in any given moment. But the goal here is to have a clear focus each week and build skills and confidence by taking the baby steps. 



Step 1. Know what you want
1. Develop a list of goals / questions

Why do you take this internship? Working at a small firm because I have no experience and want to build experience from experience? Good. What experience you trying to build? 

2. Company-wise: know the team / organization 

Do you know how the teams are organized? Which team is the bread winner? Which team is more visible in the company? Which team is a new found team? Is there an internal SWAT team? What makes them different?

3. Domain-wise: Know one or two specific subject matters 

If your team is organized by domain / product / service, e.g. FICC (fixed income instruments, currencies, and commodities), then at the end of the day you should be able to explain to others what it is, its benefits and features. 

4. Industry-wise: Know one or two fact about your industry

If your team is providing management consulting services to FS (Financial Services) clients, then find out which sub-segment your team is involved with. Find out the distribution of the segments (e.g. asking what is the contribution of each segment)? Who is our biggest client? 

5. Have the big picture in mind – know why you are doing what you are doing

As an intern, you will be asked to do something as lame as writing summary of a news for a banker or doing research on the FinTech companies for insurance. Don’t just treat it as a lame job. Show that you are willing to take on any challenges and your work will be more focused with a clear objectives / big picture.

Insider Tips: If your senior / manager is one of the order takers and givers, then don’t force it. Do what is asked first, then ask how this will be used.

Sometimes your senior may be impatient with you if you ask too many questions without showing your progress.  

Step 2. Perform at work
6. Manage your manager(s) – know their expectations

Your managers are likely you sponsors. Your sponsors are like your promoters – they are the ones that partners ask for input for your performance evaluation. 

So it’s always important to schedule a meeting with him / her to clarify expectations early on. They will usually ask you what are your objectives. And interns being interns will usually say “I want learn stuff.” Few will dare say “I would love to work for this company after I graduate.” Be the few. Ask them their expectations of you. 

Insider Tips: Try to pencil a feedback session Monday every week. Write them their suggestions for improvement and write down how you have improved, and showed your work (document) to them. At the minimum, you will show that you really take their words seriously. 

7. Know their pains – make them look great

Do you know your managers’ KPIs? What is it that they are trying to do? How can you help them? Before you worry about his / her problem, try not to be one of their problems first. Then offer to help. 

8. Be quick but thorough with your job

Professionals has three simple tricks in general: faster, better in substance and style. Be faster with your work, but always double check your work. Make spellcheck your friend. Check the text alignments. Ask yourself what can be improved in your work. More structure? Always to ready to present.

9. Ask for feedback 

As an intern, you are likely to get some monkey work first. But don’t lose faith. Do a good job nonetheless. Ask “have you received the X that you sent you? Let me know if you want me to walk you through it.” Then ask them “what can be improved / how to be more effective”. Not for now. Ask for more work. 

10. Manage expectations and keep your promises 

When you become a superhero, and work comes from all directions. Let others know what you are doing and ask them the priority and urgency. Don’t say yes but failed to deliver. If you can’t do something then let them know, so they can find help elsewhere. Be known as someone that keeps their promise.

Step 3. Build the network

11. Know everyone and greet everyone

Make it a goal to remember one person’s name a day. Drop by and say “Hey X, how’s it going?” The person is stylish? Good. Say “Hi X, I know your tie.” AND release the tension by walking away. You may freak out the other person if you don’t know to compliment and release the tension. 

12. Grab them for coffee

Make it a goal to know a person a little better everyday. Everyone likes to be treated preferentially. Even guys. Even partners. Practice saying “Let’s grab coffee sometimes” after chitchatting.  And then do ask them out for coffee. 

13. Ask them advice for career in general and desirable intern behaviors

Finally got a coffee session. Now, try to get to know them better. Find a good moment to ask “what’s your view on a good intern?” Or ask them “how long have they been with the firm?” “Did you start your career here?” “How you make the move?” “What’s your advice for interns?”

14. Develop your list of sponsors; Map the power map

If your objective is to get a return offer after the internship, then start mapping out the power map. Build a bubble chart in excel or ask me to send you a template. On column A put Group, B Name, C Influence, D Support, E. Contact Frequency, F. Actions. Make it simple by having 5 to 1, 5 being highest in influence for C and 5 being very likely to support you in D. Then make E the size of a bubble. Contact Frequency means how often you connect with that person. The goal is to establish sponsors and neutralize negatives.  

15. Identify mentors

Find someone who is willing to teach you what they know? Start building personal connection with them. 

Step 4. Go above & Beyond
16. Buddy up with high potential peers

Never beats the sense of a good old comradeship. It will help if your peers share your vision and value for work. Not the one trying to cut corners and bitch others. But the ones who are trying to add value and help others.

17. Help other interns perform

Don’t overdo it by pretending you know more. Be humble and helpful. Point them to where the resources are. 

18. Organize events

Once you are comfortable enough within the organization. Try to organize a happy hour or outdoor event. Try different ideas out and see what works. 

19. Have no sense of entitlement – be willing to do shit

One of complaints that old people have towards younger generation is their sense of entitlement. I’m X, so I don’t do Y. This creates the impression that you are hard to use and difficult to manage. Not a good thing before you have the ability to be independent.  

20. Always ask what you can do to get the return offer

Make sure people know what you want, how they can help you with, and that you are willing to do what it takes to get it.  

Practice getting return offers even with your non-top-5-companies. You will feel awesome and relaxed in your job hunting, while your friends are stressed about looking for a job or doing a master.   

Insider Tips: The best time to look for a job is when you don’t need one. 

Source: CareeTipsHK; Image: Giphy



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