We know it can be strange to start working in the professional world as a college student. The people you work with may have more years of experience in your field than years you’ve been alive. Crazy, right? It may seem overwhelming, but we’re here to help! Check out these tips to make the most of your internship.
Ask questions. You’re not expected to know everything, but hey, you’re in the right place to learn! Applying what you’ve studied in class to the real world can be challenging. That one slide your professor casually mentioned in lecture may be the base of an entire summer’s worth of work. Never be afraid to clarify what something means or how it works before getting too deep into a project.
Be the ultimate professional. Arrive each morning ready to work! Relentless punctuality is key. Early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable. When interacting with coworkers, find the perfect balance between professionalism and comfortability. Always dress like it’s your first day on the job and don’t forget to be transparent about your life outside of the office. If you need to take time off, let your boss know as far in advance as possible.
Get to know your coworkers and fellow interns. Becoming more familiar with the people around you helps you become more comfortable with yourself and your work. Other people (even in different departments) can be your best resource.
Ask for feedback. It can be nerve racking to hear what you need to improve on, but constructive criticism helps you learn from mistakes and be the best employee and professional you can be. Every company values its employees and strives for growth. Remember, your internship could turn into a full time job if you impress and exceed expectations.
Go the extra mile and unplug. Under promise, over perform. Give your input on ideas. Take initiative. Create your own projects. If you have down time, make the most of it. Try to avoid checking your phone unless it’s required for a specific project. “Do not disturb” mode should be your best friend.
Be optimistic. Refrain from undervaluing mundane tasks or small projects that may not interest you. People appreciate someone who maintains positivity through the grunt work. Make brightening someone’s day a part of your job description. It’s nice to see a fresh face in the office, why not one that’s happy to see you?
Log your experiences. Although your day spent from 9-5 p.m. may seem unforgettable at the time, it’s hard to think about what you actually did after the conclusion of your internship. Months later, you’ll start asking yourself, “What did I even do everyday for 10 weeks?” Create a portfolio folder and write down a sentence or so each day about what you worked on. Include the final deliverable of each project so you can go back to it later and confidently reference or present your work in the future.
Say thank you. Your mentor is there to support you! Don’t forget to thank them for all that they’ve done to help you expand your skillset. Although it might seem old-school, a handwritten thank you can go a long way. And don’t forget to stay in touch! When your time at your internship comes to an end, keep your mentor updated with what you’re up to and what your next steps are in the professional world.
Easy enough, right? Strive to be the intern that employers want to have back next summer, or even hire full time. It takes discipline and hard work, but it’s worth it when you have an experience you can proudly and confidently display on your resume. Good luck!