Lessons from my Internship: Week 5

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Internship / Saturday

This was a slow work week for me because of reasons I can’t quite articulate. There was a lot coming in, not a lot going out. I felt a particular malaise that I thought I had left in high school. Nevertheless, things picked up towards the end of the week and I definitely learned some things.

Understanding core motivations

This came from the live recording of NPR’s How I Built This with RXBAR founder Peter Rahal.

When Rahal was a kid, he was diagnosed with dyslexia. He struggled with school. He spent 2 years after college basically doing nothing.

So when he mentioned that his core motivations was to “Prove to people that I’m not an idiot”, it made a whole lot of sense.

When we’re interacting with people, it’s difficult to look beyond the surface level of incentives and dive deeper into their core drivers. It’s particularly difficult when you’re meeting a stranger for the first time.

But you can do this for you friends. Think about what their core motivations are. What do they yearn for the most? I think it’s a valuable exercise in empathy.

Even more importantly, what is your core motivations? Not the stuff that you’d say in a job interview, but your core motivations. This is a high ROI exercise. It gives a conscious filter to think through.

Soothing egos

When someone feels threatened by you, and them feeling that can make your day-to-day life difficult, you need go into soothing ego mode. Contrary to what some will tell you, being likable is still the #1 reasons why people hire you. Now, different people “like” different things so you’ve got to figure out what each person wants. Some want you to be funny, some want to be brilliant, and yes, some just want deference. You’ve got to be able to mold into these roles.

When you think you might have offended someone, some them that you respect their opinion. Ask them for feedback on something that you’re working on. Play off any comments from them intended to pull you down.

This can be hard. Since I’m young, I can often have an ego of my own! Control your self-destructive urges. Look at the larger picture and then act.

Take advantage of your ecosystem

When you’re at a company, look at where in the ecosystem are you. There are probably adjacent companies not in your industry but the same size, same scale of resources, and similar growth trajectories.

Find people in these companies who are doing the same job as you. I had a conversation with one of the interns from a company HQ’ed right opposite my office and I learned so much on how to do my job. If they are a few years older than you (find MBA interns if you’re an undergrad), then you’ll usually be able to find nuggets of insights. Explore widely and you’ll be able to form a comprehensive picture of your role and what it takes to succeed.


We’re half way done! Thanks for being a part of the journey with me. I’ve learned so much over the past five weeks and I’m excited to take us to the end. In the short term, I’ve got some great things lined up for next week, including one of my favorite books of the summer. See you on Monday!

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Week 8: Lessons from my Internship – A Summer of Learning

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