There is much other than just technical skills that I have learned form this internship, and among those is leadership. Although, as an intern, your kind of at the opposite end of the leadership spectrum, that doesn’t mean internships can’t still be an amazing time to learn about this valuable skill, in many different ways. I believe one important way is learning from those that work above and around you. Much of what I’ve learned about leadership this summer comes from my supervisor, the CEO, and even the full-time software engineers.
From my supervisor, I’ve learned some of the importance of the role of a leader as a teacher. One thing my supervisor has done well is show that he is confident in my ability to overcome the challenges in my project, which is important when I myself have never worked with these sorts of challenges before. By having confidence in my abilities though, my supervisor would let me find my way through the project, letting me work to overcome challenges as they came up without taking over and doing it for me, only offering some guidance when necessary. This helped me preserve through the harder parts and actually learn something from it each time. I believe this is an essential aspect of a leader for all leaders who take the form of a teacher.
From the CEO I have also learned about leadership. I had the chance to have a one-on-one talk with him during lunch one day and he took the opportunity to ask me a number of questions. He was very concerned with what I thought of different aspects of the company and the internship, including what I thought was good and what I thought was bad. He made it clear to me how important feedback was to sustaining a healthy company, especially one that is relative young like this one is (having only been founded in 2016). Although the CEO has a impressive background in engineering and the sciences, he explained that his most important role in the company was maintaining a good team, which included many things, such as open communication, honest feedback, and strategic goal setting. One striking thing he mentioned was the importance of “being the dumbest person in the room.” H meant to things from this. One: always asks questions in order to learn what you don’t know, otherwise you will not ever learn anything, and than you really will be, not only the dumbest in the room, but also the least useful. On the other hand, he also wanted to point out the importance of creating a team of people who know more than you; otherwise, the team isn’t necessary. The CEO explained that he was happy to be the dumbest in the room as long as he was cultivating an environment where other smart people could work efficiently and, together, create an even smarter team with the potential to make something great.