If your internship is going well, you’re busy, productive, learning new things every day, and getting along well with the other members of the organization. Maybe you’ve even come up with some thoughts on how to fix a problem or smooth out a process.
If you want to talk to your supervisor – or any manager – about your idea, we’ve got a few suggestions for how you should proceed. Think through these steps before starting the conversation.
Introduce your idea succinctly
Come up with a quick “elevator speech,” a sales pitch that encompasses your whole idea, and why it could be beneficial, quickly and cleanly. You may not have lots of time for impactful conversation with the boss, so make it count. Think about capturing a problem, suggested solution, and potential outcomes in a few short sentences. “A coupon generated with a Facebook ‘like’ could incentivize new customers to check out your new product line and bring in some foot traffic from millennials who use social media to source retail goods” is an example of a brief, complete sales pitch. Follow it with “If we could generate 100 more fb ‘likes’ this month, we’d increase our web following by 15%” and you’ll show you’ve done your homework, know the market, and want to make a lasting contribution to the organization.
Being denied, or even ignored, by supervisors is sometimes an unpleasant reality of the working world. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! But it does mean that you should anticipate the possibility of being shut down, and understand that it isn’t necessarily personal and doesn’t reflect on your success as an intern.
Know your chain of command
Approach your direct supervisor first. Don’t go over that person’s head without asking, or you’ll likely ruffle some feathers. If you think you’d like to move up the food chain with your idea, ask whether a conversation with a higher-up is appropriate, and be sure to show that you appreciate your supervisor’s support and input.
Your internship is a learning opportunity, but it can be a chance to make real contributions to an organization, too. Tread carefully, and plot out your suggestions in advance. Then, go forth and knock their socks off!