So you’ve put together a resume and cover letter and interviewed successfully, you may now be wondering what else you need to do for your internship to be successful. Getting hired is only the start; since before you know it the summer will be over, and you will want to know that you’ve done everything it takes to be a successful intern.
One of the major reasons that students do internships is to gain the relevant knowledge and skills it takes to get started in a particular career field.
More importantly the value of your internship includes the professional people you meet along the way that can serve you well once you begin your job search. You may have heard the old adage, “it’s not what you know but who you know that counts”. You may not believe it, but you will soon find out that networking with others can open doors for you that might be impossible for you to crack alone.
Helpful tips on how to make the most of your summer internship:
1. Be prepared to learn everything you can!
It’s guaranteed that you will feel incompetent and inexperienced at times, but just know that that’s ok and that’s what most people feel when they start any new endeavor. Just remember that it’s ok and even normal to experience these feelings, but don’t let it affect the quality of your work and how you deal with people both inside and outside of the organization. Internships are learning experiences so be sure to take advantage of your status to learn more and ask questions so that you can get the absolute most out of your internship.
2. Be punctual.
Punctuality is a trait that can either endear you to your boss; or if you’re constantly late or don’t come in, it can be something that annoys the heck out of him or her and could even cost you your internship. Coming in each day a little early will show your boss that you are eager to come to work and that you want to get the most out of the experience that you can.
Being early might also have some perks by enabling you to meet with other employees when the environment is a little less hectic.
3. Take copious notes.
At the beginning of any new experience, there is always so much to learn. By taking notes you will be able to learn quickly and not keep asking the same questions. Although good supervisors usually welcome questions, asking the same questions over and over can be annoying while also taking a lot of the supervisor’s valuable time.
4. Find a mentor and meet with him/her regularly.
Having a mentor within the organization can take a lot of stress out of your internship. Look around within the organization to see which people seem knowledgeable and approachable and ask them if they would be willing to help guide you or be your mentor. A good mentor can help show you the ropes much quicker that trying to navigate the job and the organization on your own.
5. Take initiative.
This can be your time to shine. Although this might take a great deal of your time, by doing a good job you will show your supervisor your capability which could lead to future responsibilities that you would welcome on the job. This is one way to steer away from being asked to do the mundane tasks that nobody wants to do while giving you some concrete experience to add to your resume.
Be sure to ask others if you can help; or if you realize that there’s a project you’d like to take the lead on, check with your supervisor for the ok.
6. Stay informed.
Be prepared to read professional literature, websites, and correspondence that circulates the office or on the web. Don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor for information or literature or anything that could help you understand the organization and the job better. When the time feels right you may want to make some recommendations based on what you’ve learned and how you think things could be improved.
7. Ask lots of questions.
It’s much better to ask questions than to make a bunch of unnecessary mistakes.
Supervisors usually welcome questions unless it appears that you are not learning and keep asking the same questions over and over.
8. Request performance reviews.
In order to do a good job it’s important to get feedback from your employers so that you can find ways that you can improve. Lack of feedback on the job leaves employees unsure of their value and a lack of knowledge on how they can improve their performance.
9. Show respect for everyone.
From the CEO to the janitor, be sure that you treat everyone with respect. This one trait goes a long way towards being considered for full-time employment should a job open up. Even if you are a good worker, being arrogant or unfriendly to people within the organization, could cost you a job or a good recommendation. Employers usually hire people that they feel will fit in well with the other people in the organization; so as an intern, it’s your job to get along with everyone. Also, be sure to avoid office gossip since that can get you into a lot of hot water.
10. Stay focused on the job.
It may seem ok to surf the internet or to make personal calls or text at times when you are not busy on the job, but you can be sure that this is not ok when your supervisor needs your help. In addition to being distracting, it will take you away from other learning activities or chances to communicate with supervisors, co-workers, or even other interns.