Working as an Internship Manager over the past 3 years has taught me a few valuable lessons on what it takes to be a great intern and how to make the most of your internship opportunity.
Let’s face it. Your Internship experience is what YOU make of it. It can be fun, taxing and to start with, pretty intimidating. You have worked extremely hard to get here, so grab the opportunity with both hands, knuckle down and conquer the challenge set before you.
During your internship you will develop your skills, build your résumé, have the opportunity to network with people in your field and hopefully receive an amazing reference for when you need it. Most importantly, you’ll get your foot in the door and increase your chance of landing a full-time job once you finish college.
After managing students in various internships, I decided to put together a guide for you to become the most legendary intern:
1. NO JOB is ever going to be easy or perfect. In the real world nothing is ever going to be easy. You are going to be given tasks you don’t enjoy as much as others, projects you might hate and work that in your eyes might be meaningless. Don’t let it get you down. Keep your head up and finish each project to the best of your ability.
2. Show commitment. Show up for work on time and, if necessary, stay on later in the evening. Do whatever it takes to get your work done and to get it done well! Being on time and staying later than expected will show your employer how committed you are to doing a great job. It’s the employees/interns that are willing to sacrifice their own time by working overtime that get noticed.
3. Use your initiative. If you finish your task, ask around for something else to do. Rather be proactive than reactive. Move around the office and make yourself useful. Help out wherever possible. No task is too good for you. The more you do the better.
4. Push your boundaries. The quickest way to learn is by stepping out of your comfort zone and exposing yourself to the unknown. Use every opportunity you get to improve your skills in the workplace. No matter how complex the task might seem, It will only benefit you in the long run.
5. Don’t be scared to ask questions. You are an intern, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. In fact, asking questions is a good thing and your boss will expect it. It shows you are willing to learn. If you’re having a problem with something, ask someone for help. It can feel like you’re asking a stupid question and getting in the way of real work but no one expects you to be an expert from the start. Everyone had to start from the bottom at some time.
6. Be a team player. Consider yourself as part of the team, and with everything you contribute, remember that your involvement is playing a role in helping the team as a whole achieve their goals. When things are going well you can celebrate with the team, but, ‘if the chips are down’ be willing to stand together as a team.
7. Network like there is no tomorrow. Take every opportunity to meet as many of your co-workers as possible. If you are working in a big company, you may only have the chance to work closely with certain people in one department. This is why it’s important for you to make a concerted effort to build quality relationships and make connections with people throughout the entire company.
8. Exceed expectations. You hold the key to your own success. The sky's the limit. As the old saying goes, “what you put in is what you get out”. Make sure you put in that bit extra. It will only stand you in good stead for the future.
Remember: You don’t get many chances in life. Make every opportunity count.