Whether you landed your DREAM internship or you’re at a company that might not be your first choice, consider this experience an audition for your future. This is your time to apply all of the skills you learned from the classroom and life thus far to the REAL world. Here are some tips to make sure you nail that audition and make the most of your internship.
Come Prepared on Day 1
Do your research! I know what you are thinking… But this isn’t the interview, why do I need to continue to read up on/ research the company? Well, it’s simple – you’re an intern and you are still in the “proving yourself” stage. Read up on the company’s products, keep up on any articles that surface in the news, learn about their competitors – you never know when your research will come in handy. Similarly learn the names and faces of the big players in the company. You don’t want to end up being on an elevator with the CEO and start talking about something inappropriate. On the same token, if you do end up in an elevator with an important person, this might be a good time to say hello and introduce yourself. Knowing their name will be impressive – that’s a promise.
Work Hard & Effectively
Put your cell phone down, don’t check social media (unless that is part of your job description) and focus on the task at hand. Treat every day of your internship like it’s an audition, the biggest game of you athletic career, or your final Glee Club performance – WORK HARD. My former coach used to always tell me “Steph, hard work is only worth something if it’s effective”. Imagine running your heart out in a race and then realizing that you are running in the completely wrong direction. Sure, you ran fast andyou tried hard, but you still never made it to the finish line. One main tip to working hard effectively is to ask questions when you don’t know what’s going on. Imagine you just got an assignment from your manager and you have no idea how to do it. Do not smile, nod and tell them “I got this!” Instead, ask them some questions and make sure you understand what it is you are charged with doing. You can either be the intern who asks questions and tries hard to get it right, or you can be the one screws up a project because you wanted to seem like you knew what you were doing. I strongly suggest you avoid the later.
Staying positive is extremely important in any internship. Even if the experience isn’t all you thought it would be, it is important that you remain upbeat and keep a good attitude. The goal of your internship is to learn, network, and leave with a strong reference from your boss. At the end of the day, if you really don’t like what you are doing – it is only three months… You will survive! Here’s another secret, generally speaking people like having interns. They remind them about how excited they were when they started their career. That positive attitude might get your more responsibilities and will definitely transcend into a positive reputation at the firm.
Request Feedback & Be Receptive To It
Periodically throughout your internship request meetings with your boss to assess how things are going. You want to know how you are doing and what you could be doing better. Once you get feedback, USE IT. Even if your boss says you aren’t hacking it – take the advice they are giving and change the way you are doing things.
Network, Network, Network
If you don’t remember anything else, remember this – networking will get you your job. Networking basically means building and maintaining relationships. Keep in mind if your internship is in the field you want to work, then you’re more than likely going to be running into these individuals for the rest of your career – the world is small. When you are in your internship try and meet as many people as you can, but don’t just introduce yourself. Talk to them. Learn about what they do, where they came from, and where they are going to go. People love to talk about what they do so listen! One tip is to send an email or “thank you” note to everyone you meet, it’s a foolproof way to ensure that they remember you. Your most valuable resource during your internship is the people that you’re surrounded by – even your fellow interns.
Lastly, SAY THANK YOU.
At the conclusion of your internship be sure to talk to your manager about what you got out of the experience and thank him/her for giving you the opportunity to work there. At the end of the day, people love feeling appreciated and even a simple expression of gratitude may even help you land a full time job.
Associate Director, Career Planning Center