Commentary: Summer internships lead students to career success

Algenon Cash

Commentary: Summer internships lead students to career success
May 30
03:00 2018

Some years ago I launched a summer internship program titled “Developing Excellence” and every year we invite the best and brightest to gain comprehensive skills and experience.  Often college students only focus on their classwork and make the common mistake of not picking up relevant work experience in the marketplace.

I caution students not to rely completely on their GPAs [grade point averages] because employers want to ensure their workers have more than a theoretical understanding of their job.  The only way to win over a company is by demonstrating you actually can do the work.

Summer is just around the corner and most universities have ended their semester.  This is a perfect opportunity for students to pick up a summer job and for some teens it may even be their first entry-level position.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Practice your elevator speech – Be prepared to make solid eye contact; have a firm handshake, good posture and keep smiling.  Your initial introduction is the perfect opportunity to help someone learn more about you, your skills, and overall background.  Not to mention this is an opportunity to help others discover the best way that you can serve their company.

2. Recruit strong mentors – Search through your closest friends, co-workers, supervisors and colleagues to find people who can help you gain new skills.  I often call mentors my own personal board of advisers – they can help you navigate challenges while keeping you focused on your highest and best interests.

3 .Discover ways to exceed others’ expectations – People always call me to assist with projects and opportunities simply because they know I think outside the box and typically go above and beyond to complete a task.  Not to mention rarely do I require a lot of hand holding and I stay focused on being resourceful.  If you can provide more solutions than create more problems, then you will be seen as a valuable member of any company.

4. Work hard – Having a strong work ethic is absolutely critical to having a successful career.  Don’t text your friends during work and stay off social media when you’re at work.  Always make sure you’re fully invested in your work.

5. Have integrity – Do what you say you’re going to do and stick to your deadlines.  If you make a mistake, then be the first to stop and take 100 percent responsibility.

6. Keep a journal – Document everything you learn during your summer internship, including takeaways from conversations with mentors and co-workers.  Don’t forget to make some notes about your ideas and things you may want to try when you actually reach your career starting point.

I deeply encourage high school and college students to invest time this upcoming summer in gaining new knowledge through a quality internship experience.  If you’re interested in joining Wharton Gladden this summer, then contact me and let’s schedule a meeting.  Good luck!

Algenon Cash is a nationally recognized speaker and the managing director of Wharton Gladden & Company, an investment banking firm. Reach him at

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