You’ve landed an internship… great! This can be one of the most important experiences you’ll have as a college student. But you may be thinking “Now what?” See how you can make the most out of any internship opportunity and really stand out to your employer –
- Do your homework
You probably researched the company’s background and history for your interview, but now that you’ve landed a job, it’s important to come into your first day confident and prepared. Check out the company’s website and get familiar with the staff, especially the ones you’ll be working with closely. Take a look at their blog and any other press to see if you can get an idea of what the company is currently focusing on, and brainstorm ways you might be able to get involved. Doing your homework implies that you’re willing to go above and beyond: the number one way to stand out as an intern.
- Dress for success
This one may seem obvious, but it’s still important to note. Make sure and ask if the company has a dress code, and if so, be sure you adhere to it. Blowing off the dress code or just dressing unprofessionally in general can really send the wrong message to the people you want to impress the most. It may seem like a small detail, but your appearance can actually end up leaving the biggest impression on your employer. Even if you do great work, dressing casually suggests a certain “don’t care” attitude towards your job, which is exactly what you want to avoid.
- Show enthusiasm
During your internship, be prepared for anything. Some days you may be doing something that seems unimportant, but remember, your manager is watching you to see how well you handle these initial tasks to see if you should be given more responsibility. Updating the calendar and reviewing the employee handbook might make you feel underappreciated, but doing these things effectively and efficiently shows your boss that you can be trusted to take on bigger projects.
- Make connections
Getting to know the people you work with will help you build valuable relationships that can benefit you later on in your career. On your first day, ask a co-worker if they would like to go out for lunch. Growing your network allows you to gain insight into events, opportunities and resources that you may have never found on your own. Even after you leave your internship, staying in contact with your co-workers is always a good idea. One of your co-workers might just know of a job that’s perfect for you, even years down the road.
- Look for ways to get involved
As you progress through your internship, you’ll get a much better understanding of what’s going on around you. Try and attend as many team meetings as you can, take some notes and whenever appropriate, share your insight and suggestions. If one of your co-workers seems to be stuck on a project, reach out and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Being willing to stay late and take projects home will show your boss that you have a strong work ethic, are self-motivated and are eager to get involved.
- Ask for advice and feedback
As an intern, it’s inevitable that you’ll need some help from time to time. That’s what an internship is all about! Having questions and asking for advice shows that you really care about your work, and that you are willing to learn and grow. If you’re struggling, look to the people around you for support, because chances are they’ve dealt with a similar situation and will be able to guide you. Email your boss and see if you can set up meetings to talk about your work and get some feedback. This will help you understand what you’re doing right, and where you can improve.
- Reflect on and record your accomplishments
You want to walk away from an internship with a clear idea of what you accomplished and what types of skills you gained. Take the time to think about what assignments you excelled on and where you made the biggest impact. Be sure to make copies of everything you work on, and save them either on your computer or as hard copies. Putting together a portfolio of your accomplishments can be a valuable tool to bring into future job interviews to display your talents and newfound skills.
Contributed by Michelle DeRoetth