My brain crammed with Excel formulas and resume pro-tips, I jumped on a plane from Seattle back to the East Coast to start an internship at a small finance firm. After a month at Koru, I had built up a new set of “job skills.” But this here was the final test. Would what I learned really benefit me at a small company 3,000 miles away?
Let’s look beyond the hard skills. Excel formulas will help you anywhere. Once you have the hard skills, it’s the soft skills that can make all the difference to your success or failure. Here are 4 (unexpected) lessons from Koru that proved most effective in my internship.
RELATIONSHIPS ARE EVERYTHING
One of the most crucial requirements for success at a new job is your fit within the company culture. At Koru, I failed a lot while learning how to network. After that initial failure, I got better at it. Now, back in the “real world,” I was confident and eager to start making connections on Day 1. I didn’t just ask my new colleagues about their professional background. I asked them what motivates them outside of work? What were they passionate about? By doing so, I got a quick sense of the company culture and how I could fit in.
EQ TRUMPS IQ, EVERY TIME
Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, was another big factor in my success. The office was tiny — less than 10 employees. Every day, I was interacting not only with my peers but also my boss. You have to know when it’s an appropriate time to discuss the roadblocks you’re running into with your assignment or chat about the awesome hike you went on over the weekend. (Both are OK, but it’s all in the timing.) I worked hard to empathize with my peers and our customers. I was equipped with all the hard skills to be successful, but it’s the people skills that set me apart.
BE YOUR BEST SELF, EVEN WHEN IT’S HARD
Working in a small office also means it is impossible to slide by unnoticed. The Koru platform of being your best self every day stuck with me. I challenged myself to show up every day as the best possible me I could be. I learned being a team player isn’t just being diplomatic. It’s making coffee for the office every morning when you don’t even drink coffee. It’s helping out your fellow intern, not because it will get you a good “intern grade,” but because it will make the company stronger. It’s throwing away that plastic cup someone left in the conference room.
DO TO LEARN
You want to become good at something? Do it, a lot. I had sat in the hot seat at countless practice interviews at Koru, but sitting on the other side of the desk that July at my internship was even more educational. As we interviewed countless candidates for two entry-level positions, I started taking mental notes:
Do not wear too much cologne. Please. Nobody will want to work with you.
Don’t be shy. You would not be having an interview if you lacked qualifications, so use your time to showcase who you are. That’s what they want to see.
Don’t say you’re interested in the role because you “want to learn.” That’s not a team player mentality. A team player wants to make the company stronger.
Write thank you cards. You’ll be remembered. If you send out multiples, don’t copy and paste the same letter because people in the office can and will compare them.
When my internship came to end, my boss asked me if I would be interested in working full time when I graduated in December. My new found job skills (especially the soft skills) had passed the test. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.