The Best Perk of Interning at LinkedIn: Free Knowledge

August 9, 2013

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of blog posts by LinkedIn’s rockstar summer interns. Today, we hear from Sandra Helsley, a Web Developer Intern on the team supporting LinkedIn Influencers. Sandra is a Master’s student at the School of Information at UC Berkeley.

My internship at LinkedIn has provided me with a wealth of perks: great work experience, free food, influential speakers, and most recently a trip to Disneyland. Among the long list of incredible perks I received as an intern, the one perk that stands out the most - and lasts the longest - is the direct and open access to people and knowledge.

As an intern, it’s important to be proactive about getting to know your colleagues, gaining more knowledge and expanding your professional network along the way. It can be difficult to speak up in a crowd, especially if you tend to be shy like I am, but the reward can be amazing. I’ve found in my experience that an effective way to do this is to ask questions.

sandra helsley standup meeting

Asking questions may seem like a simple task, but in reality it can be quite difficult to do. Asking questions can expose a lack of knowledge or make us feel small. We might even think our question will be a waste of somebody else’s time.

Not speaking up makes work more difficult

In my first job after completing my undergraduate studies, I rarely spoke up during team meetings. I felt as though I didn’t have anything important to say, and didn’t want to interrupt other people’s thoughts. But others around me interpreted my silence as a lack of interest in the discussion, which affected my ability to connect with my team.

Stand up and ask for help

During my internship at LinkedIn, I’ve pushed myself to speak up. I’ve found that occasional stand-up meetings, where my team refrains from sitting to keep the meetings quick and efficient, provide a regular time to communicate with my team. The informal nature of these meetings also helps to create a comfortable setting allowing us all to speak our minds.

When I encounter a problem, I do my best to narrow it down to a specific issue, and bring it up with other web developers around me, or when necessary, other web developers in our group. This helps my colleagues know where I am in a task, and in return, I get assistance with an issue I’ve encountered. In one instance, we even realized a more efficient method to transfer a value from one part of our application to another.

Forging relationships beyond my team

Posing questions to others outside my team has also helped me expand my professional network. For example, I recently reached out to meet members of our User Experience Research team, as I am interested in learning more about how UX research is conducted at LinkedIn. I met three of them for lunch, and learned a lot about the projects our researchers tackle, in a part of LinkedIn I don’t see on a daily basis. Along with this, I made some new connections.

Asking questions: not just for interns

For everybody, not just interns, there is little to lose by turning the fear of not knowing into an opportunity to learn. After all, it's better to ask questions and be sure about the answers, than to wander aimlessly, alone. In the end, question-askers can accomplish more, build up confidence, and communicate better with others.