Competition for internships heats up not only with multinational companies and coveted big brand names but also with start-ups, where interns can have the opportunity to be more involved in business decisions.
Getting started on internships involves writing CVs and getting through interviews. Once you land yourself a stint, you’ll want to be a self-directed learner, make the most of your experience, and do all you can to stand out. A successful experience can lead to recommendations, lasting professional relationships, and even a full-time job.
To create desirable outcomes from your internship journey, you need a game plan.
Initiate a 30-60-90-Day Game Plan
Professionals use the 30-60-90-day plan to set goals and strategise the first three months in a new job. It is usually presented in the final stages of an interview process. It is also a document that is useful for mapping out transitions. New leaders use it to communicate their intentions, actions, and expectations with teams and stakeholders.
Treat your internship like a real job. While you may not meet the above professional requirements yet, the 30-60-90-day plan can still work as a game-changing tool for you. Going into an internship with a 30-60-90-day plan can help you:
- Create an impression at the interview, highlighting your enthusiasm to intern for the company. Comparing yourself, who presents a plan and ideas at an interview, with someone who just answers questions, you will have a much more substantial conversation with your hirer.
- Demonstrate how you can contribute actual value to the company, showcasing your capacity to strategise and operationalise.
- Structure and guide your academic learning focus.
- Communicate your learning, performance, and personal development goals to your supervisor and gain alignment.
- Give your supervisor more reasons to engage with you regularly to discuss, make rolling plan revisions, and evaluate your performance.
It is not often that you are asked to come up with such a plan, but initiatives are always appreciated.
The Greatest Ideas Are The Simplest
A well-thought 30-60-90-day plan is clear, strategic, and carries impact. Too short, and it is an insult to the role. Too long, and it is unnecessary. Present your plan in an easy-to-read format. It can be a one-page word document or pdf, or a PowerPoint not exceeding four pages, with a dedicated page for each section.
Begin your plan by outlining your overall goal. Then zero-in on what you would like to achieve in 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. Create a theme for each stage of your action plan.
Always go back to S.M.A.R.T. planning – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. As much as you would like to make a good impression, your plan needs to be realistic.
Research about the company, culture, product, customer, competition, departments, and team. Never replicate someone else’s 30-60-90-day plan or, worse, download a generic one from the internet. Build your own and customise it for the role.
It’s Not About You
While it is all nice to tell your employer about your personal development goals and your desire to gain specific areas of invaluable learning experience through the internship, you’ll need to outline measurable performance goals that contribute actual value to the company. Demonstrate that investing in you as an intern is worthwhile because of what you can give back to the employer. Show that you are always thinking ahead for the business.
An Actionable & Progressive Plan
Every goal should be followed by clear strategies and specific actions that you are committed to executing. Incorporate a timeline and state Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to measure your success. Do not be over-ambitious, and do not worry about not having the “perfect” plan. Employers will know that you cannot know everything, but the effort to try can only put you in a positive light.
As a general guideline:
- In the first 30 days, you will be involved in meeting people, training, and learning. Develop objectives, actions, deliverables, and KPIs around knowledge, people, culture, and processes. Revisiting and refining your 60-day and 90-day plan should also be one of your to-do items during this period.
- At 60 days, you are more confident, involved, and will start sharing ideas. Your goals, actions, and measurable outcomes can speak of contributing, planning, and pitching. By this time, your deliverables should be more specific and concrete.
- By 90 days, you should be executing, evaluating, and optimising. Your 90-day plan will be an extension of the 60-day one, focused on initiatives and making improvements.
A 30-60-90-day plan differs from roles to organisations. You may find yourself in the position to have to execute a project in the first month. With that knowledge, your plan will be very different from the above, with planning and executions fast-forwarded to the first month and learnings and initiatives taking place along the way. Adapt your plan accordingly.
A 30-60-90-day plan is not meant to be built, sealed, and put away. Always go back to it, review it personally and with your supervisor. Ask for feedback and be open to change.
What If My Internship Is Not More Than 90 Days?
There are no fixed rules. You can play your game plan any way you want. Even if your internship is only for 60 days, you can still present a roadmap outlining the respective goals and deliverables – at the beginning of your internship, at the midpoint, and by the end of the stint. The planning framework is fluid. You just need to initiate one.
Invest your efforts to be a stand-out intern.