Now that you’ve landed a great summer internship, how are you going to make it really worthwhile for both your employer and you? A bit of planning coupled with the ability to remain flexible as circumstance dictates, will help you learn a lot while enjoying the new experience and the opportunity to build your skills and credentials. Here’s how:
Do Your Homework
You did a lot of research to land the internship. Now go the extra step by talking to people in the field and doing some reading before Day One. If you can, talk to some previous interns about their experience at the organization.
Pretend It’s Your First Day of School
Remember the end of summer, when you were in elementary school? You would buy some new clothes, buy your school supplies and have everything ready to go for the first day of school. Well, the first day of an internship should be treated the same way. Make sure you know the dress code. And come prepared with a proper notebook, pens and a laptop.
Take Notes and Ask Questions
This sounds so basic, but I can’t tell you how frequently my 20-something clients come to meet with me and have nothing to take notes on or with. Writing down important points, and ask questions to show you’re interested and focused. Don’t expect to be able to keep everything in your head.
Carefully Observe Arrival and Departure Times
Even if the organization is casual, take note not only of stated hours but of the hours people actually work. You don’t want to be the first out the door at night—it will make you look like you don’t have enough to do or aren’t committed.
Ask For More
Without being a pest, your goal is to learn as much as you can about the organization and be as helpful to your supervisor as possible. If you can, be the one to ask for additional work, or join a team working on a project of interest. The more you do, the more you’ll learn, which will directly impact your future hiring potential.
Meet As Many People as Possible
This is key. It’s easy to stay close to your supervisor and avoid venturing out of your prescribed area. Don’t succumb to laziness or shyness! The most successful interns make it a point to meet managers in other areas and learn about what they do. You can do this in the office, or you can invite people to have a cup of coffee—whatever seems appropriate. Be alert to what’s going on in the organization and who’s working on interesting projects. The internship should be about exploration. If you’re smart, helpful and humble, and on the lookout for additional opportunities, you will significantly enhance your experience.
Do you need career guidance or know someone who does? Contact me for a brief complimentary conversation.