As an intern at Indium Corporation, I am given a fairly large amount of freedom when it comes to my tasks. My supervisor tells me the end goal he has in mind; however, the steps that I take to get there are totally up to me. Although I have a large community willing to help me and give me advice, completing projects in a timely manner is heavily reliant on my organization and planning.
When first receiving a project, I begin by learning all I can and taking notes about the topic in order to truly understand what the goals for the project are and what exactly is expected in terms of results. As a Mechanical Engineering major and Engineered Solders intern, this usually includes researching the technology involved with the topic because, although I am not particularly experienced in the electronics field, my engineering background is a great base for understanding, and I am very eager to learn all that I can. This can also include researching product markets, learning a manufacturing process, or anything else that may be involved with the project. Understanding everything about a project is crucial for success, or even for planning the next steps, because it allows me to know what needs to be done and also allows me to ask better, more meaningful questions when communicating with others about the project.
When tackling a project, it is also useful to create a to-do list or a timeline which sets out the steps involved in reaching the goal - and when each should be completed. I usually begin with making a list of everything, in order or not, but just brainstorming and trying to think of anything that could come up and writing that down. After I have made an initial list, I begin putting everything in order, with estimated start and finish dates, to get a general idea of how this project will play out and the time required for each part. Along with this general setup for the process of project completion, I find it helpful to create daily to do lists, which I usually make at the beginning of my day. These account for smaller steps within the project and include things I may not have expected or forgotten about when creating the original project timeline.
Planning and organization can play a large role in a project’s success and allow less time to be wasted on last minute planning and trying to figure out where to go next. I may have made this out to be a long process, however, the creation of a list should not take more than a few minutes a day. It is important not to spend too much time on planning because, although it significantly speeds up any process, most of your time should be spent executing the items on your list.