5 things I learned in my first week as a Summer Intern at Oxbow Partners
July 21, 2021
It was a week of meeting new people, learning new skills and trying to take in as much information as possible. Here are the top 5 things I learned in my first week the Oxbow Partners Summer Internship Programme.
1. You are a member of the team
As you enter the office on the first morning of an internship, it is easy to feel like an imposter. What became clear in the first few seconds of being met by one of the Consultants was that I was not an imposter or an outsider but a member of the team. The team were genuinely excited to meet the interns and happy to give us their time. Of course, being a member of the team is both a privilege and a responsibility; you are expected to meet the high standards and values of the company, just as everyone else is.
2. It is not a competition
Summer internships sometimes have the reputation of being intensely competitive. Perhaps in some sectors or companies there is a negatively competitive culture among the interns, or a belief that the only way for one person to succeed is for the other interns to fail. On the very first morning, one of the Partners broke down this misconception and made it clear to the interns that there was a possible job for all of us at the end of the internship and we were not competing with one another. Knowing that it is in our interest to work together and help each other means that all the interns benefit, and all of us are able to produce better work.
3. Ask questions
A classic piece of advice for interns is not to be afraid to ask questions. While it is not necessarily true that ‘there are no stupid questions,’ I was never put down or made to feel inadequate for asking questions. In fact, asking questions shows that you are engaged with the work and want to do it to the best of your abilities. It is far better to ask questions as you go along than to be left stuck or to produce a piece of work that is not fit for purpose.
4. Be communicative and honest
Especially when working remotely, I found that the more I communicated with the rest of the team, the faster I was able to integrate into the projects. During my first week as an intern, there were definitely times where I was assigned a task that I realised quite quickly I had no idea how to even begin. All it took was an honest conversation and ten more minutes explaining the task for me to be on track, rather than wasting everyone’s time by pretending I understood when I did not.
5. It is okay to make (the right kind of) mistakes
As an intern, or even just as a human being, making mistakes is inevitable. During the first week of a consulting internship it is easy to be afraid of making mistakes – the language is different, the skills are different, and for the people who are at the company already this all comes naturally. As I learned quickly, what differentiates the right kind of mistake from the wrong kind of mistake is effort and humility. People understand if you make small errors, but there is no excuse for being lazy or arrogant about your work. What matters is taking responsibility for your mistakes and working hard to correct them.
Overall, the first week of my summer internship was hard work – but incredibly rewarding. I can only look forward to the next seven weeks.
Applications for the 2022 Oxbow Partners Summer Internship Programme are now open
To find out more and apply, visit our Interns page below.