Maximizing Your Internship & Career Development



By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

The CEO of a prominent college student services organization says interns can consciously do some things to stand out and maximize their experience. Dan Rosensweig heads up Chegg, which was founded in 2000 and now provides textbook rentals and online tutoring to college students.

Rosensweig has found previous success over the years at a number of technology companies.  These included president and CEO of Guitar Hero, chief operating officer of Yahoo, president of CNET, and CEO of ZDNet. He took the helm at Chegg in 2010.

Rosensweig says there are three keys for an intern to stand out during their experience. “Come in with curiosity.  Assume good intent until somebody proves you wrong, which means don’t go looking for someone to create a problem for you - assume they don’t mean to.  And then if they do, talk to them about it but assume goodness until they prove opposite.  And, just be positive!”  

According to the Chegg CEO, interns should get to know people at their host company by introducing themself.  He also urges interns to take risks and try things they think they might not succeed in, in order to learn.  He adds students should not expect that employers think their interns know what to do all the time. “You are an intern for goodness sakes.  I am a CEO. I call my friends who are CEOs of even bigger companies because I don’t always know what to do all the time.  The goal is to get it right, not to know the answers all the time.” 

Rosesweig thinks most students mistakenly think of networking as a short-term, transactional concept where people reach out to others they think can help them get something they want.  Although he admits that can have tangible benefits, instead he suggests a longer-term, wider-ranging perspective about networking.  “Networking is not a means to an end. It is the end itself.  That’s a person I would like to have in my life and I would like to be in their life.  And that changes the relationship dramatically.  So you check in with people - there’s no agenda.  And 10 years later, all the sudden it’s amazing how what you are doing and they are doing comes together and amazing opportunities happen.” 

So how should students approach a job market now that is, at best, uneven? “If you can’t get the exact job you want, try to get the company you want and try to get a manager that is going to invest in you.  Those two things will matter more than the job itself.”  Rosensweig says finding a great manager who invests in you and your development is a “game changer, moreso than your first job…find a boss and a company that is growing and in your direction and the rest will work itself out over time.” 

Rosensweig urges students to be flexible as they move into the job market. “Life is about attitude. It is about being open to possibilities.  It is about be willing to seize those opportunities whether you think you are ready or not. Life is not a straight line. It is serendipity.  If you find yourself in a situation where an opportunity opens up, then you have to be open to considering it.”

He said students need to be willing to fail, but then must be resilient to get back up and try again.  “Enjoy the path because it is not always easy.”

Dan Rosensweig was the featured speaker for a recent virtual lunch and learn session, sponsored by WayUp, a job website and mobile app for college students and recent graduates. Find out more about WayUp.