Internships can be difficult–it’s your first time in the real adult world. But there are certain tricks you can do in order to make yourself the best intern your boss has ever seen.
Getting the internship is the easy part. It’s the process that can be hard. From being scared or nervous, to being a little unprepared to work in your field, you might find yourself wandering to your first day on the job with no clue what to do next. Here’s a helpful guide to keep in mind of things to do that will make the internship worthwhile, and you the best intern ever.
1. Be ready to learn.
Internships aren’t just necessary resume-fillers, they are an important way for you to learn the skills you’ll need when you get a full-time job. Ask a ton of questions, and take detailed notes. You’ll never know when you’ll need these skills in the future.
2. Be early.
The early bird gets the worm, and for interns, that is doubly true. Not only do you show off to your boss that you are reliable (see #11), you’re more likely to get the best jobs if you’re competing against other interns. 15 minutes early is on time for an intern–even if your boss and co-workers are usually late.
3. Be resourceful.
Don’t be that intern that interrupts the boss every few minutes to ask a dumb question (yes, there are dumb questions, and those are the ones you can answer by using Google). Use everything you have at your disposal: the internet, other interns, other workers in the office, and your brain. If you can do things on your own, your boss will be impressed.
4. Be positive and professional.
A good attitude is one of the most important tools in an intern’s belt. You’ll never get hired on full time if people don’t like you, and your boss also won’t go out of his or her way to teach and help you if you have a surly attitude. Positivity goes a long way, even if you’re nervous.
5. Make relationships with coworkers.
Network, network, network! Making connections is so important–sometimes, more important than the actual internship. Be friendly and make lasting connections–definitely use LinkedIn–so that you’ll know someone to turn to in the future when you’re job searching and/or have an industry question.
6. Document your accomplishments.
Every interview you do from now on will ask you about your greatest accomplishments in one way or another. Don’t be caught off guard; if you keep track of what you accomplish during your internship by documenting your responsibilities, you’ll be able to look at what you completed after the internship is over.
7. Never turn down an opportunity.
If your boss asks you to do something, do it. Even if it’s to get coffee. Even if it’s to make copies. Being an intern means that you are the low man on the totem pole. But if you don’t put up a fight, and take every opportunity seriously, your boss will probably be more likely to give you a good job later on, when they know you are trustworthy. Plus, sometimes when the task sounds meaningless, it ends up being very educational.
8. Become irreplaceable.
If during your internship, you can show off that your passion and creativity is irreplaceable, you might be able to score a full time job at the company when you graduate. Great work ethic will help you show this off and make you a one-of-a-kind worker.
9. Get one-on-one time.
It is very important that you get some time to talk to your boss one-on-one, not only to create a relationship, but also to set time aside specifically for your questions. During this time, your questions don’t have to be related to the task at hand, but can be more general, like about the job search process, or his/her tips for you. Try asking them out for a coffee break or lunch (and you pay–since you’re taking up their time).
10. Be dependable.
Meet deadlines, work hard, do everything you’re asked and more. Being dependable is very important, and an important element in reaching a few of the other goals listed above.
11. Find a mentor.
This one is tougher, because you can’t just walk up and ask anyone to “be your mentor.” But if you create a meaningful connection with someone who’s ahead of your in your field, making them your mentor can be one of the most helpful things in the (professional) world. You’ll always have someone to ask for tips, tricks, and advice for the hard process to come.
12. Ask for feedback.
Asking your boss whether or not your performance is on the right track is not only acceptable, but encouraged. You want to make sure you are doing everything you can to succeed, and your boss will appreciate the fact that you are working your hardest to do so.
You can prove you’re a hustler (and therefore invaluable) by going above and beyond at work. Volunteer to help co-workers or do a project outside of your job description. Never sit at your desk with nothing to do–you can always find something to fill your time if you try hard enough.
14. Don’t forget thank-you notes.
When the internship is over, write a detailed, hand-printed thank you note to your boss. They took you on with no experience, and gave you a great semester/summer worth of experience to take away. That’s kind of amazing, and you should definitely be thankful.
15. Stay in touch.
Keep in contact with people from the company after the internship is over–especially if you are not a senior. Just because you aren’t looking for full time work now doesn’t mean you never will be, and if you were great at your internship and keep your relationships strong after it ends, you just might find yourself interviewing with a boss you already know and love.
[Featured Image Credit: unomaha.edu]