March Madness is kicking off this week, both on the court and off. As the top college basketball players prepare to play in the NCAA tournament, soon-to-be graduates are preparing to launch their careers and applying for internships.
While it can be a competitive environment, interns can avoid upsets in their job search by bringing their A-game to interviews and showing employers that they are MVP candidates. What does it take to be an MVP – Most Valuable Professional – in the office? Whether you consider yourself a key player or a benched backup, we can all take some training tips from the top stages in sports and apply them at work. Here are the top five lessons learned that you can bring into the office.
Patience is a virtue, so practice it.
The 2017-2018 football season was dubbed the “Year of the Backup” after backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa led the Alabama Crimson Tide to a National Championship and backup quarterback Nick Foles led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl victory. With the heartwarming stories of their eventual rises to the top, the two quarterbacks demonstrated grace, hard work and patience, as they waited for their time in the spotlight to arrive.
Practicing patience is something we can all apply to our careers, whether you’re just starting out or counting down the days to retirement. However, it is especially important for interns, who are new to the industry and still learning the ropes of their chosen profession. Whatever you have in mind, whether it is scoring an interview follow-up, securing a big win for a client or landing a full-time job offer, it may not materialize when you want, so practice patience and remain persistent.
Continue to work hard, even when no one is watching.
Even though the Winter Olympic Games are still fresh in our minds having just ended, most of the athletes that compete once every four years spend much of their time out of the spotlight, training behind the scenes and working tirelessly without public recognition or endorsement deals. Many train year-round only to miss qualifying for the Olympics by a single point or a fraction of a second.
Just like the Olympic athletes and hopeful competitors waiting for their opportunity to represent their countries, you never know when you may be called in for an interview or asked to lead a team presentation to your supervisor or client. If you’re always ready to suit up and jump into the game, you’ll show your team, supervisors and potential employers that they can count on you in any situation.
Support your colleagues and be a team player.
Tagovailoa supported first-string quarterback Jalen Hurts all year long, high-fiving him after major plays, picking him up after a tough loss and working with him to develop his game. When their roles were reversed and Tagovailoa started the second half in the National Championship game and led the team to victory, Hurts was all smiles and celebrated Tagovailoa’s big win with him.
Demonstrating support for your colleagues, even when they are given the assignment or promotion that you’ve been vying for, will help you build genuine relationships in your workplace. These relationships will prove more valuable to you throughout your career and help you in the long-run, than acting self-serving or undercutting your colleagues. At Pierpont, we win together and lose together as a team, so when one person succeeds, we all celebrate, and when one person loses, we pick that person up and move forward.
Act the part from the beginning.
If you can’t behave like a member of the team, even as a backup, putting every effort into each play, your coach may not trust that you can perform when it comes down to the wire and you’re needed to step up. When the Houston Astros chose to start pitcher Charlie Morton in Game 7 of the World Series over long-time Astros starter Lance McCullers, it would have been easy for McCullers to hang his head, develop a bad attitude and let it affect the team or his play. Instead, he came out of the bullpen in relief, didn’t allow a run and helped deliver Houston its first World Series championship.
The same goes for internships – it’s important to behave like a full member of the team. Dress the part, behave professionally and possess a positive attitude no matter the task you’ve been assigned, so your employer can see how you’d act in a full-time role. If you can establish your credibility as an intern and prove yourself a valuable asset to the team, you’re more likely to make a convincing argument to be hired on at the end of your internship.
Recognize there is no off-season.
The NBA season spans seven months of the year, nine including playoffs, and the MLB season can last up to nine months, including postseason games. Imagine if even the best athletes decided to take a break during the off-season, skipping the gym and eating junk food during the few months of the year they have off from their full-time training regimen. No matter how great they were the previous season, they’ll struggle to perform at the same level after a lazy offseason. The most successful athletes work hard in the off-season, and are committed to their job year-round.
The same applies to the workforce – it’s a constant cycle of building and maintaining businesses, fluctuating in intensity based on the time of year. However, continuing to give your best effort is important to your employer, teams and clients. In your internship or job, you may feel more comfortable the longer you’re with a company, having found your groove. Don’t forget how important it is to not let off the gas or pull back on your efforts though, and continue to show your supervisors quality work ethic. Complacency is your enemy, so strive to think creatively and challenge yourself to continue growing as a professional.
Lauren Williams started at Pierpont as an intern before joining the team as an Assistant Account Executive. She supports clients in the healthcare, consumer and energy sectors, and is an avid sports fan.