Congratulations, you secured an internship! Whether you’ve had internships in the past or this if your very first one, make it your priority to get the most out of this precious 9-12 weeks. During this time, you’ll have opportunities to cultivate beneficial relationships, impress your supervisors, and even put yourself on a path towards full-time employment at the company.
Our tips below will show you exactly how to master your internship–before you begin, once you’re working, and when you finish–and leave a lasting impression on your supervisors and coworkers…so that they consider you when a full-time position opens.
Before your internship…
- Ask for a meeting with your supervisor. Before you begin working, ask to speak or meet in person with your supervisor to review any questions you have about hours, attire, phone usage, technology you may be expected to bring, nearby places eat, find housing if needed, etc. If you’re asked to use your own laptop, phone, or software, make sure everything is clean, updated, and in working order. The last thing you want to do is get to your desk on Day 1 of your internship and not be able tackle your first project because you’re waiting on a lengthy software update.
- Research the company. You probably already researched the company a bit before you interviewed with them. But now that you’re part of the team, read the bios of any team members posted on the website. Spend some time on the company’s social media. Search for any news articles in which the company is featured. Doing this extra research will help you feel more connected to the company and thus a more passionate intern, and will help you impress your coworkers and supervisors because you know about the general goings-on. If you’re moving out of state or abroad for your internship, research will be especially important to find housing, entertainment, food options, and more.
- Procure professional clothing. Even if your supervisor has told you that the company’s workplace attire is casual, that doesn’t mean you can wear jeans with holes in them and a band t-shirt. Rather, wear nice jeans, button down shirts, khakis, professional dresses and skirts, etc. Make sure you have enough professional clothing to last you for at least one week. Need work clothes, but strapped for cash? Check out nearby thrift stores, Goodwill, outlet malls, etc. And if similarly-sized friends are cleaning out their closets, ask if you can look through their clothes.
- Volunteer to take on additional projects. Your first priority is always to complete the tasks that your supervisors give you. But if there are extra tasks or projects that haven’t been claimed, but need to get done, ask if you can complete them. Or if you keep hearing your coworkers and supervisor talk about something that they wish they had the time to do in the office, listen and be proactive. For example, if you hear people talk about how they wish the company would organize a volunteer day or activity, create a list of nearby opportunities and email it to the company. This will not only be impressive because you took proactive action, but it will also help everyone recognize your name and who you are. And the more people in a company who associate you with being proactive, the more likely it is that you’ll be considered for job opportunities once your internship ends.
- Take every opportunity to get to know your coworkers. Your supervisors will probably introduce you to various people in the company early on in your internship, and may even assign one or two people to be your mentor, coach or just a general point of contact. If any of these people ask you out for lunch or coffee, say yes. This will make you look approachable and eager to learn–two characteristics that every company wants in an intern and future coworker. Plus, talking to more people will help you learn more about their working experiences and the company in general, which will help you decide if the company is a good fit for you as a possible full-time employee.
- Ask for regular meetings with your supervisors or coach. Many supervisors assign a coach to their interns to help them overcome challenges, improve skills, and progress towards goals. It’s very possible that your supervisor will serve as your coach. If you have a coach, he/she will schedule regular meetings with you. If your supervisors are serving as your coach, you may need to be a bit proactive and tell them that you would like to have regular, formal check-ins. Your supervisors are pulled in many directions, so you may need to take the lead on this. Ask them what days/times are most convenient for them, then schedule a meeting via email (or ask their receptionist to schedule it) so that the meeting appears on their schedule and sends them reminders. Regular meetings will help you stay on task (because you may need to report on your progress and you want to have something to say) and demonstrate your desire to keep learning and growing, which will make an impression on your supervisors.
- Ask for an exit interview. If your supervisors haven’t mentioned an exit interview or final meeting of some sort, request one. Use this time to discuss your experiences, accomplishments, and possible interest in working for the company in a full-time position one day. This is also a great opportunity to provide honest feedback to your supervisors about how to provide a better internship experience in the future.
- Request copies of your work. As an intern, you are trying to build your portfolio. When you apply to your next internship or full-time job, hiring managers will want to see proof of your skills, and that’s where a portfolio or collection of work samples will come in handy. Make sure that you leave your internship with digital and (if needed) print copies of work you’ve completed, such as a final presentation and report, written articles, a report of social media analytics, etc. Doing this at the end of your internship, when your work is still fresh and readily available will prevent you from having to request them at a later time, which might leave your supervisors having to dig through old files.
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