As a former intern and current internship supervisor, I can tell you that a really important part of landing your first job has to do with the quality and quantity of your internship experiences. With that said, it’s not always easy to speak up as an intern to make sure that you’re getting the most out of these opportunities. How can you walk away with some real life experiences, tangible evidence, and valuable perspectives of your desired industry? Here’s a few simple ways:
1. Set Personal Goals. If you’re interning for credit, you probably have to set some beginning of semester goals, anyways. So make them and aim for them! You’ll feel a greater sense of accomplishment once you achieve them. Hint: Setting unrealistic goals could make even a good internship seem horrible. So make sure that they’re realistic and attainable in your position.
2. Have a Positive Attitude. Yes, sometimes interns will be asked to do some mind-numbing tasks. You may be sick of making copies or answering phones, but you won’t want to be caught complaining about it. Whether you like it or not, someone has to do the grunt work. Enthusiasm and professionalism will be noticed, I promise.
3. Speak Up. Don’t be afraid to ask questions… That’s what your co-workers and supervisors are there for! And if you’re making copies and going on coffee runs all day every day? It’s time to speak up. Bring your list of goals to the attention of your supervisor and explain that while you enjoy being helpful around the office, you also have some goals to accomplish. Approach them with a good attitude, and they’re bound to change your tasks up a bit.
4. Be Prompt. Even if you’re working in an easy-going atmosphere, arriving late is never okay (especially as an intern). Showing up late and leaving early will be noticed and may even be noted in an end of the semester evaluation.
6. Get as Much as Exposure as Possible. Meet people outside of your department, attend company social events, network, and build relationships. Meetings may seem boring to you, but they can actually offer chances to increase your own knowledge about the company and industry.
7. Find a Mentor. While networking, it’s important to build professional relationships. To get started, you should find at least one person at every internship to really connect with. Ask questions, discuss ideas, and most importantly, stay in touch. New interns will be in the door as soon as you’re out, so make sure that you leave on good terms and stay in touch!
8. Never Assume. I’ve already told you more than once that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. What’s that other old saying? When you assume, you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me?” Well, you can. If you’re the slightest bit unsure about a task (even something as simple as how to file or how to use the copier), then ASK. There’s nothing worse than assuming wrong and creating more work for you or someone else.
9. Save Your Work. Make copies, print web pages, take photos, and gather tangible evidence of your internship experience. If you collect your work throughout the semester, it’ll be easy to walk away with an entire portfolio of professional experience!
10. Enjoy Yourself. Have some fun while you’re working and learning. Don’t break the code of conduct, of course, but it won’t be a bad thing to show some personality!
Any other tips for aspiring interns? Send us a tweet @20sTweet and we’ll retweet your advice to share with everyone!