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6 Tips from a JPMorgan Chase & Co. Intern: How to succeed in my summer internship

Some interns don’t get return offers. That’s the truth. And it’s not always because they don’t deserve it, but rather it’s often because there’s another intern that stood out more and made a bigger impact. In corporate America, the employment market is tight, and big firms want to retain the best of the best, so throughout your summer internship, there’s a few ways that I recommend to stand out based on my experience last year to make sure that you’re the intern that gets that return offer for a full time role.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, last summer I interned at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York City and starting in July this year, I’ll be going back to work at the company full time in a rotational analyst position. I was one of the lucky interns in my program to receive a full time return offer, and throughout my time I met some of the most interesting, helpful and insightful people who taught me so much and made me excited to return to the firm for a full time role. And that’s the key right there – to meet people.

Build relationships at work

If I had to give one word of advice to any intern for the summer season – it’s “relationships”.

The underlying thought behind the best advice for success in an internship is building, maintaining and investing into relationships with the people around you. Whether that be other interns, senior management, people in other divisions who have no real connection to you at work, or even (and especially) the people who work in close proximity to you, the main thing you want to focus on in your internship will for sure be relationships.

And why’s that? Not only because you want to expand your network to be as wide as possible, but because you want to cast that net as deep as possible too. When you invest into the people around you, you want to make sure that you’re not just adding people on LinkedIn, but rather getting to know people and forming real connections.

Everyone knows you’re an intern – and that’s okay!

The greatest thing about being an intern is that while yes, you’re working a 9-5 (and in some cases even more hours), everyone around you that’s employed full time views you as someone who’s there to learn. Yes, there’s this stigma that big corporations are trying to beat of “our interns don’t just grab coffee and print papers” but at the same time, when you intern at a company, the best thing that you can do is embrace the mentality and idea that you are temporary and that everyone there knows that you don’t work there full time.

Why do I say this?

When you get to your first day of work, you might experience this feeling of sticking out like a sore thumb and your mind will tell you that you should remove the name tags that say “summer intern” or try your best to fit in and not be noticed. While yes, it’s awesome to be a part of the firm and a bigger team on a whole, there’s some real maturity that comes with embracing the position you’re in as a learner.

Embrace being a learner

I certainly felt like I didn’t want anyone to know that I was interning, because you almost feel less-than, or like you’re not taken as seriously because you’re just a temporary hire. But the truth is, in any good firm, the more senior employees value the interns and know that it’s a learning vehicle. It’s a position where you’re uniquely positioned to cold email higher level managers to ask to grab coffee or ask the “silly” questions to someone who’s been at the firm for 10 years. Imagine if you were on the other side of it – you’ll recognize true curiosity and be happy to share and teach. At least I know I would be.

From my internship experience I’ve gathered a few main pieces of advice that I thought I’d share for anyone going into a summer internship starting soon or maybe that’s started already.

They are the following:

1. Network – make friends w/ other interns!

To me, whether or not you plan or want to return to the firm for a full time role, an internship is a networking opportunity. Not only in terms of meeting people currently at the firm, but also meeting other interns who are in the same spot as you.

I found some of my favourite people at my internship last year, and some friends who I know I’ll be in touch with for the rest of my life. You automatically have something to bond over with them, and that helps to break the ice.

Take the time to get to know the other interns. You don’t have to be best friends, but the truth is, even if purely from a professional standpoint, you’ve both made it to the point where you’re at, so you both have something in common in terms of ambition, and down the road, you never know where that other person might end up – especially if they end up not getting or accepting a return offer.

It’s a great way to expand your network across businesses, but on a more real level, it’ll help you to feel less out of place in your place of work.

If there’s no other interns at your internship, find someone that’s an entry-level or first-year hire. When I interned last year, the new hires started in July, while I started in June, so the interns actually had a month of experience more than the new hires. What did that mean? We both had the same malleable, open to growth mindset that you have to have when you first start a new job. And that means you have something in common. Tada!

2. You need a growth mindset

What is a growth mindset?

A growth mindset means being curious, ambitious, open to making mistakes and open to learning new things.

That mindset is of the utmost importance in your internship, because you’re at a place where very likely you don’t know much about, and so there’s going to be a lot thrown at you at one time, whether that’s in terms of training, getting to know company protocol and culture, learning new software or business skills or even just meeting new people.

Why is a growth mindset important?

A growth mindset is super important and something that you should check yourself for throughout the internship (especially towards the end) to make sure that you’re making the most of the opportunity in front of you.

You should intentionally seek out uncomfortable situations where you know you’re not the brightest in the room or better yet, situations where you know nothing at all about the topic and you’re just there to listen. When interning at JPMorgan Chase, I would oftentimes listen in on Zoom calls about the most miscellaneous topics that I couldn’t understand because they used jargon that I didn’t know and statistics and abbreviations that I couldn’t follow.

Was it frustrating? Hell yes.

But I sat in those meetings and wrote down the abbreviations I didn’t know, took note of the things that I thought were important (even though I really had no idea what was important or not) and then asked questions to my advisor afterwards.

A growth mindset means going somewhere and experiencing something that you’ve never experienced before, and listening actively to hear new words, absorb new information and hear new topics that you couldn’t even think of. Being intentional about your growth at an internship is so important for your success as an intern because it also shows how ambitious and self-starting you are when you take the lead to learn new things.

3. Have lots of coffee and lunch!

This one is pretty self explanatory but when I say have lots of coffee and lunch, I definitely don’t mean alone!

Every coffee and meal you buy/drink throughout the 9-12 weeks of your internship is an opportunity.

Thinking about it that way really blew my mind.

Every coffee you drink is an opportunity

It’s an opportunity to meet someone over something that’s so human. You can find out what people like – do your co-workers eat salads or sandwiches? Do they like soda or juice? Do they eat fast or slow or do they like iced coffee or hot coffee? These small things that you can learn through sharing a coffee or lunch with someone – whether another intern or employee – are things that you can bond over and create real relationships through.

I met someone in my office who was a big fan of Greek food, and she always ate at a nearby Greek food truck and eventually treated me to lunch there one day. It’s those little things that you and the people you meet will remember after you’re gone for a year (assuming you decide to go back for full time).

Eating lunch alone is okay too, but don’t do it all the time

And of course, to caveat that, there will be times when you want to eat lunch by yourself. And that’s OKAY! But one mistake that I made in my internship was starting out eating lunch by myself because I didn’t know how to ask someone to grab lunch. “Do I send someone an email and ask to grab lunch or coffee in my first week?” The solution I found was to start small. Grab lunch with the person you sit next to. Grab lunch with someone in your office on your floor who you think seems interesting. Or ask to walk to get coffee with someone if you don’t want to spend the whole time drinking it with them together. Smaller gestures to the people around you go a really long way.

4. Do something to make yourself stand out

This one is for those interns who are competing for a return offer. In a competitive internship environment, you’d do well to remember that all of you made it past the resume screen, first and second round interviews and super days. You’re all capable not only of the internship at hand, but of carrying out the full time role too. But as I said, oftentimes the job market just doesn’t allow the firm to hire all it’s interns full time, and that can sometimes mean that qualified candidates get cut. And it sucks.

Do something unique to you

My advice to you is to think of something that could make you stand out as an intern. Do everything everyone else is doing, then do something more.

For me, I worked on ,establishing the foundation for a Caribbean Business Resource Group at JPMorgan. This was less of a project that I intentionally carried out to stand out, and more of a passion project, but it definitely made me stand out as an intern and when I talked to my manager about it she told me it was a good way to show determination and drive.

That’s really what you want to show the firm.

Show them that you can contribute in a way that no other employee can. You can carry out the job function just as well as any other person can, but you can also add value to the firm. Make yourself an asset to the firm, and they’ll be sure to give you that return offer.

5. Talk to Senior Execs and ask them to teach you something new

Again, this one is super straightforward but also super important. Don’t be afraid to talk to a Vice President or Executive Director or Managing Director at the firm.

They’re all people too.

My financial advisor for the summer actually brought his little kids to work one day and let me play with them. These people are much more than their job titles, and while it might seem intimidating to reach out to someone who’s tiers above you in the administrative hierarchy, if you’re genuinely curious in what they do and want to have a productive conversation with them, reach out.

Remember that they’re humans.

Remember that although corporate absolutely sucks, appealing to the humanity in people is always a good release.

And what’s something that always appeals to the humanity people? Asking someone for help. If you ask someone a question about themselves – whether it’s how to do something, for an explanation of their job function or to tell you about their day to day – that person will 9/10 times talk to you, because people love to talk about themselves and many people love to teach and share about themselves too.

6. Do the b*tch work sometimes

My last piece of advice is exactly the above: do the bitch work sometimes – and do it well. 

One of the most important lessons I learnt in grade 6 from my teacher was that you should always do your job well, no matter what it is. If that means sweeping the floor, you better sweep that floor like no one has ever swept it before. If that means printing agendas, you better print those agendas so fast and organize them so neatly that whoever asked you to print it is in shock at how efficient you are.

No task is below you

Throughout your internship, there’s gonna be times when you’re assigned to do tasks that are menial, or tasks that you feel are below you. Moreover, you’re gonna be assigned tasks that you straight up just don’t want to do. But do those tasks with grace. Do those tasks quietly, do them well, and do them to the best of your ability because every step that you take throughout your internship matters and your attitude towards tasks like those matters too.

I think it’s so important to remember that nothing is below you, and you should never put yourself on a pedestal.

Ask for more meaningful work

Of course, don’t be doing the bitch work all the time. If you find that you’re being assigned to grab coffee or print things all the time, then speak up. Ask for something more meaningful to do. You want to be able to talk about what you did at your internship in future interviews, so doing a whole lot of nothing doesn’t help your career prospects. Words on your resume are meant to lead to conversation, not just end there, so make sure that when your internship is over, you have stories to tell and memories you can recount.

And that’s my advice to you for your summer internship! Congratulations to any and all of the 2023 summer interns at whatever firm, company or startup you’re working with. Not everyone has the opportunity to intern, gain work experience before graduation and learn hands on. Take the opportunity head on, and always remember to be grateful for where you are.

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