Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Art of the Midterm Review

Believe or not boys and girls, we have officially reached the half way point of the summer! Hopefully you feel like the first part of your summer was great and are optimistic that the 2nd part will be even better.

For anyone who is interning right now, one thing you may be preparing for is your midterm review (if you company you are working for conducts these). While reviews can be a little stressful, they can also be incredibly beneficial. The key to a constructive midterm review is to do your homework. Make sure that you have written down specifics on some of your major projects so far and also looked over the review format to give yourself an idea of what kinds of questions you're going to get feedback on and will have to answer.

During your actual review, it is important to regard this experience as more than just a time where your employer to tell you all the things you've been doing poorly. If you walk into your midterm review and that is in fact all that they have to say about you, it is time to start asking questions and find out what you can do to improve your performance. In most cases, your employer is going to give you feedback on what you did well and what you should work on. This a good thing. Receiving your constructive criticism then taking steps to improve your performance in these areas will set you apart from the pack. Espcially if you are a younger intern and still have the opportunity to intern with this company or another company before you graduate.

An example of a constructive criticism that you may receive during a midterm review is that you may need to improve your communication. This could mean several things. You may struggle with communicating your ideas to other engineers, managers, etc. If this is something you need to work on, think of better ways to get your ideas across. One good thing to do is to write down what you're trying to convey. Having a little cheat sheet with all the details you wanted to discuss will keep you from blanking out and also help you support your ideas.

Another disconnect in communication may be how you communicate with others on a day-to-day basis. To be frank, one thing that engineers generally struggle with is their ability to communicate in general. I know this a typical stereotype and not all engineers struggle with communication, but for anyone who does struggle with this, there are steps you can take to improve your communication skills. Here are a few examples:
  • Smile! It may seem simple, but smiling and being positive with your co-workers conveys that you are open to conversation. Even if you're having a bad day, taking it out on other people by being negative to them will not help you AT ALL. Just because something is getting you down doesn't mean you have to take everyone else with you.
  • Find opportunities to improve your skills. Doing things like being involved in social events with other interns or your co-workers, volunteering to make a presentation or lead a meeting, and talking to someone in person instead of e-mailng them are all ways to work on your communication skills. The key to many of these is to take yourself away from electronic modes of communication and actual interact one-on-one.
Make sense? I hope so!

So now that you know how to receive your constructive criticism and grow from it, the next step of your internship is going to be applying those improvements to you day-to-day work. In addition to this, you and your employer should set goals for the remainder of your experience. This is so that when you go to do your final review, you will have some top projects to discuss and hopefully some deliverables to present.

While reviews can be stressful situations, it is important to look at them as more than just an opportunity to get your behind handed to you for showing up to work late too many times or sleeping at your desk. Take your constructive criticism as an opportunity for improvement and a way to show your employer that you can make progress working on your weaknesses. Also, keep a mind set that you should find ways to make it hard for your employer to demerit your work. Find ways to be innovative, thorough, and positive in your work every day and I can almost guarantee that your employer will be hard pressed to give you a terrible review.

I hope this information is beneficial! If anyone has questions that they'd like me to address or feedback about this or past entries, shoot me an e-mail at

As usual,

Good Luck Job Seekers!

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