Those who get the most out of life and those who give the most are those who make the choice to act.
Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012), educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker
I was recently asked to present on what skills students should have or hone prior to starting an internship. As a strong believer in internships which can provide students with not only job experience (technical and soft skills) but also bolster their resume and perhaps lead to a job placement, I found this question intriguing. I brainstormed a list, did some online searching to round it out, and then organized it (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Internship skills
I then focused on five of these selecting from all four quadrants, after some grouping. For each skill, I summarized what it entailed and how you could get or hone these skills. (See Table 1).
Table 1: Pre-internship skills to acquire or hone (with a “7 Habit” in red).
In the middle of this process, I suddenly realized that many of these soft skills were covered in the book entitled, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” In 1989, Stephen Covey wrote this best-selling book with now over 40 million copies sold. It is considered to be one of the most influential business books of the 20th century.
 Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic ([Rev. ed.].). New York: Free Press.
A summary of the 7 Habits is shown in Figure 2.
I recently reread my copy and, although it seemed a bit long-winded in parts, the model and core teachings remain very relevant and valuable. There are an overwhelming number of summaries of various lengths available on-line, which are a much faster means to learn or brush up Covey’s core concepts.,,, Table 2 provides a summary of the 7 Habits as they apply to internships.
Table 2: Applying the 7 Habits to internships.
Internships are invaluable opportunities for students to gain work experience and apply the skills they have developed at school. In order to fully capitalize on these opportunities, it is advisable to start with a strong skill set by honing those skills you already have and reviewing the concepts outlined in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a good place to start.
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