How asking For and Responding To Feedback Makes Michigan Ross Students The Best Interns
By Evan Fisher, BBA ‘17
This is the fourth in a series of posts authored by Michigan Ross Career Services Peer Coaches. Peer Coaches are undergraduate students working with Career Services to help their fellow students prepare for interviews and on-the-job success. To see the full series, click here.
Feedback is crucial for your growth and career advancement. Without feedback, it’s difficult to know what you’re good at and how you could improve. Feedback is nothing to be scared of, but rather, something to look forward to.
This past summer while working in the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs, I approached feedback with this exact mindset - and I got some great returns. I wanted to share a few feedback tips with you.
- Be proactive – it’s important to seek out informal feedback often
- Ask over coffee – Ask your direct supervisor to coffee after a project or big deliverable to discuss your performance
- Open the door – Be sure to disarm yourself and open the door to feedback
- Request specifics
- Ask how you can improve on your weaknesses
- Take action and demonstrate your ability to learn from your mistakes to show your employer that you are ‘teachable’
At the beginning of my internship I was told all interns would receive formal feedback during week five and week 10 of the summer, and we were encouraged to seek out informal feedback in between those periods. For me, the choice was easy.
If there was something I was doing wrong, I wanted to know before I reached the halfway point of my summer, so I took steps to seek out informal feedback.
Throughout my projects, I made sure to take note of any feedback my supervisors gave to make sure I was heading in the right direction.
Turn it into a Coffee Chat
Asking for feedback is a great opportunity to ask your supervisor to an informal coffee chat (which my classmate Allison talks about in her recent blog).
after large deliverables, I always emailed my direct supervisor (in my case the analyst or associate) and asked if they had time to discuss my performance over coffee. Asking ahead of time allows your supervisor to gather his or her thoughts and provide you with more in-depth information. Not only is this conversation a great opportunity to get feedback, but also to network and get to know coworkers on a more personal level. Before jumping into my questions regarding performance, I would always ask about their personal interests, vacation plans, or upcoming events to learn more.
Open the Door To Feedback
Some people are more comfortable providing feedback than others. If you encounter someone that is hesitant to provide feedback, there are a few tips I found to be helpful. To start, I would disarm myself and open the door to negative feedback through self-critique.
For example, if you know there were several typos in a presentation you sent out you could say, “I know I need to continue working on my attention to detail. Is there any other feedback you have on my work this past week?”
If this doesn’t work, you can try asking for specifics – maybe there was something about your communication style that you would like feedback on or something regarding a presentation you made. If these don’t work or the conversation is feeling forced, consider changing topics. Some people simply aren’t comfortable providing negative feedback.
When the feedback does come, be sure to handle it in a mature manner.
When someone critiques your work or behavior, accept it and switch your mindset to a problem-solving one. If someone says your communication skills need improvement, ask them how they recommend getting better instead of creating excuses or blaming others. If your supervisor has the perception of there being a problem, there is likely something you should do to improve.
Finally, be sure to act on your feedback. It’s important to take the steps needed to improve. Employers evaluate interns to determine their potential. Growing within a company and adding value requires constant growth and learning. By demonstrating your ability to learn from feedback over the summer, you can show an employer your ability to grow at the firm as a full-time employee.
Evan Fisher is a graduating senior in the Michigan Ross BBA Program and serves as a Career Peer Coach with Ross Career Services.