Getting and being successful in an internship is a huge achievement. After going to countless interviews and sending thank you notes, you finally acquire an internship that you (hopefully) really and truly love. And although you have some time to relax until your first day on the job, it is actually just the beginning of your grand new adventure.
I have been fortunate enough to intern at some amazing companies. While I applied, I made sure that each internship was slightly different from the next because I wanted to make sure I knew what I wanted to do with my life before I made any big commitments. It was like I was dating with my career — I didn’t want to have any regrets. During my years in college, I knew that I wanted to work with companies that I would be proud to mention and to talk about. So while I was interning, I always tried to make sure that I was a team player and took initiative in the tasks that I was completing. But don’t get me wrong, I have made some terrible mistakes — I’m only human through those mistakes, I have learned how to be a stand-out intern. Even if you’re beyond internship age by now, you can still use these skills and hacks for your current employment, because honestly, they are all the same.
Dress the Part: If you want to automatically feel like the team and part of the culture, this is a great first step into doing that. Before you set foot into the office, email your boss or HR manager to see exactly what the dress code is like. You don’t want to be super fancy if the environment is really casual. For some students, money is not an easy thing to come by, and I definitely get that. I had the lovely experience of working for a major fashion corporation where I couldn’t afford half the stuff they were writing about. If you are on a budget like I was, you can definitely work around this. Remember: At the end of the day, it’s really not about what you are wearing, but what you are learning. Just make sure that you are fitting in the culture and that you are comfortable. Let your work truly make you stand out from the crowd.
Turn off Your Cell Phone: Seriously, don’t even look at it unless it is part of your job. You want to show your employers that you are serious and much focused on what you are doing, and they won’t believe you if they see that you are checking out the latest notifications on your phone. And this just doesn’t pertain to your boss, either. All of the employees will have their eyes on you, and if you think the coworkers won’t notice if you are on your phone more than you’re working, you’re wrong. I made this mistake a few times, and I know that did more damage than good. It’s better to just put it away or turn it off completely until lunch time comes around.
Show You Are Committed: Show up on time, don’t rush through your work, and stay late (if need be). These are just a few things you can do by showing that you are committed to the company and the team. Honestly, treat it like it is your current job and you are getting paid, even if you aren’t. If you show genuine concern for the company, you will feel more part of the team and more committed to your work. This is essentially your time to shine. According to a Forbes article, Alex Taylor, a human resources executive at Bank of America said, “They treat an internship as a 10 to 12-week job interview.” Think of you internship as an extended part of your interview. Remember, you are selling yourself, do a kick-ass job in doing so.
Socialize (Sparingly): Socializing is a great way for you and your possible future coworkers to really get to know each other. This is really not the time to be shy, because this is the only way they will see if you are a good fit for the team and their culture. There are some guidelines you should follow — like don’t negative talk with other coworkers and don’t socialize too much that you completely forget to do your job. It’s great to make friends at your internship, but remember, you are there to learn, work and possibly acquire a new job.
Be Flexible: Essentially, you want to show them that you are willing to learn everything and anything while you are interning at this place. No task is too small for you. Be flexible by taking on additional tasks. It’s really best not to complain when things don’t happen to go your way or a sudden change happens to arise. Your attitude is probably one of the most important things you can bring to your internship. I always tried to stay positive and empathetic in any troubled situation during all my internships, because if it was happening to me, it was most likely affecting the whole team, too.
Take initiative: I’m not saying that you need to boss people around, but believing in your competence and not being afraid to make decisions is important. During my previous internships, while I always tried to take initiative in my tasks, I always made sure to communicate what exactly I was doing. By taking initiative, you are showing your possible future employer how eager you are to work with them and what type of team player you are. If you have completed your tasks for the day, ask for more, but make sure you aren’t burning yourself out. Turn in strong work and definitely don’t just rush through it. Trust me, they can tell.
Ask For Feedback: It is never a bad idea to ask for feedback during your internship. If you are even slightly curious as to how you are doing, ask your boss when they might have time to sit down with you for a recap of your performance. “This shows the employer you’re taking initiative and willing to make the changes necessary in order to succeed.”
Whatever you do, don’t stress. They obviously believe in you because they picked you for the internship. With these little tips and hacks, you will be a killer intern and soon might possible be part of the team for good.
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