The Dale Carnegie approach to professional development for young interns is predicated upon the enhancement of one’s set of “soft skills” — skills that may not be taught in a classroom or gleaned from a book, but essential nonetheless for continued personal and professional development.
Soft skills are separated into five major categories. Using those soft skills, you can “nurture the executive within” in the hopes of landing a job or securing a promotion:
Self-confidence — You landed your internship for a reason—because you are you! As a young person, you have contemporary abilities that your older employers may not have. While you might dismiss knowledge of social networking, smart phones, Powerpoint creation and contemporary trends, your superiors will need you to help keep them up-to-date as they seek to contemporize themselves in what can be an intimidating new technological world. Make your abilities known and your colleagues will appreciate the initiative!
Personal leadership — Even when you’re on the lower part of the corporate totem pole, you can leverage your strengths and lead by example. Cultivate your assertive ambition by always hitting your ‘ON’ button. For instance, if you are a creative person and have a new idea for your company, speak up! If you played sports in school, offer to set up a team-building game over the weekend. If you love to cook, bake something spontaneously for your team to enjoy.
Communication skills — Great executives are able to talk least and say the most. Being able to express yourself in a concise and coherent form, whether in an e-mail, in a discussion or in a presentation, is a skill worth refining for your entire life. Consider a course in public speaking or corporate communication, be it through a Dale Carnegie course or workshop or at your university, to enhance your presentation abilities.
People skills — Even when you feel that you are overworked, it is vital that you remember the importance of cultivating people skills. A short list includes remembering people’s names, remembering to smile, maintaining eye contact in discussions, modulating your voice, being cheerful to everyone from the janitor to the CEO and always acting in a respectful way. Indeed, no matter how advanced our society becomes, good manners never go out of style!
Attitude control — When the going gets tough, the tough rise to the challenge. During trying times is when interns can demonstrate their intrinsic value to their employer. Particularly given the present economic climate, employers are stressed and concerned. Your ability to maintain enthusiasm and encouragement can help inspire your firm to get through present difficulties. Remember, as a part of the team you are in for the full ride, and you will be appreciated for having a positive and constructive attitude.
Bonus information: Chairman, CEO and president of Dale Carnegie Training, Peter Handal, adds, “Always have an ‘elevator pitch’ — a brief description or anecdote about your experiences that, if you find yourself in an elevator with someone from upper management, intrigues them and puts you high on their radar. Always leave them wanting more!”
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