By: Jade Barricelli, Sr. Assistant Director
Okay, you got the internship. Now what? It’s one thing to have an internship, it’s another to have a valuable experience that results in new skills, recommendations, connections, or even a full time job offer! In order for an internship to be an amazing professional experience, you need to put some effort in too. Here are some tips to follow that will ensure you are making the most of your experience and impressing your future boss!
- Show initiative and start it early
Do some homework before the internship even starts. Refresh yourself about the company and the department you will be working for. Do some industry specific research and make note of buzzwords. You might even want to reach out to your future boss and ask if there is anything you can read to help you prepare for the job. Once you are at the job, don’t be afraid to volunteer to work on tasks and projects. This will show your boss and your co-workers that you are motivated to learn and you can be counted on to help out in times of need.
Meet your co-workers, other interns, and even those in other departments if you are working at a larger company. Set up a meeting outside the office, like a coffee or a lunch, and do a little research on what that person’s role is and what he or she does on a daily basis. Use these meetings as a chance to ask questions, and more importantly, build relationships. This is an excellent opportunity for you to create connections, learn from professionals, meet a mentor, and ask for advice. Don’t forget to show your appreciation if someone helps you out. A simple email, card, or even a coffee goes a long way!
- Ask Questions and for Feedback
Don’t hesitate to ask questions, especially in the first week. You will not only learn more quickly, you will also be seen as someone who is curious and eager to learn. One word of caution; Don’t make asking co-workers your first line of defense when you encounter a more general problem. Use whatever resources you have available to problem solve first. Using your judgement is important here as you want to show that you are a good problem-solver and respectful of your coworkers’ time. It’s also a great idea to ask for feedback from your boss and anyone you work closely with every so often. What could you be doing better? Are you meeting expectations in specific areas? Always be ready for critical feedback. Don’t be defensive and show appreciation for their honesty. If you are having a hard time getting feedback you might ask instead, “Who is doing a really great job and seen as a great employee here?” Follow that question up with “What makes them such a great employee?” This will at least give you someone to emulate and you will also have an understanding of what qualities are important to your boss and/or coworkers.
- Focus and Build Trust
Show that you are a mature professional and that you can be trusted to get a job done and do it phenomenally. When you are at work, focus. This definitely means unplugging from all social media and detaching yourself from your phone (unless your work requires these things of course!) Show up on time, ready to work. Pay attention to the details of your work, follow directions, and care about the quality of work that you produce. If you make a mistake (We all do!), admit to it and handle it in the most professional way you can.
- Pay Attention to Office Culture and People’s Routines
Pay attention to how employees behave, dress, and communicate. Do employees chat at the water cooler Monday morning? Are they compulsively on-time for meetings? Do they dress a certain way? Try and find out who the best employees are and mirror that behavior. Stay away from gossip and office politics when possible.