Congrats! You got the internship. But don’t think that just having a company’s name to put on your résumé is going to be enough to land you an amazing job one day. Positions at companies in any industry are highly competitive and many interns are missing out on opportunities to stand out because they neglect to do the following 10 things.
I’ve witnessed and hired handfuls of interns in recent years. Some I don’t remember at all, some I remember for all the wrong reasons and only the people who truly shined were offered a job. Here is some super-easy advice (you’d think these would be common sense, but alas) on how you can stand out during your internship and possibly land yourself a job someday.
- Take notes. Any time your supervisor calls you over; always bring a pen and paper to take notes. This shows you’re organized, prepared, and ready to listen. If you have little to no experience in that field (which is probably the case if you’re interning), you will not remember everything if you don’t take notes for reference. Nothing is worse for a supervisor than having to go over something that they’ve thoroughly explained because an intern couldn’t be bothered to listen or take notes. And it’s even worse if a mistake happens because of it.
- Send thank-you cards. One way to make yourself stand out during the interview process is to send a handwritten thank-you card to your supervisor following your interview to thank them for their time and consideration. After your internship is over, it’s also a good idea to send cards to whomever you worked with at the company. An email is great too, but a card shows that you took the time and cared a lot about your experience. I even had a former boss say she held on to cards so she could remember the person and consider them for future job openings.
- Learn by observing. Although you might have an interesting perspective or ideas to bring to the table, you should think of an internship as a way to observe the way your boss and his or her team work. If your supervisor asks for ideas or suggestions, by all means, share yours, but always keep in mind that you still have a lot of learning to do before you get to the same level as your supervisor, so don’t be a know-it-all.
- Volunteer every chance you get. This is a learning opportunity for you, so take advantage of literally everything thrown your way. The more you take on, the more industry people you’ll get to work with and learn from. You’ll also gain more experience that you can use to your advantage when you start applying for real jobs.
- Listen. Don’t make your boss repeat him or herself, or you’ll come across as ungrateful for the opportunity and just downright lazy.
- Respect everyone.Have a healthy fear of your superiors. They are your superiors for a reason, so make sure everything you’re doing is done in a professional manner. Your supervisor is not your friend, so don’t treat them like one. And absolutely never cop an attitude with anyone. No one wants to hire someone who is unpleasant and feels entitled. Also, respect the company and watch what you post on social media. You don’t actually work there, so don’t act on Instagram like you do.
- Be self-motivated. Don’t ever bum around on the Internet, or sit around and text your friends. You got your internship over hundreds of other people who wanted it, so don’t waste your short time there. If you ever find yourself bored, send an email around and ask the team what you can do to help. Not only does this make a good impression on the team, but you also get to add to your experiences.
- Triple-check your work. Relying on spell-check is never enough. Read your work, reread your work, and fact-check numbers and names two or three times before sending anything along to your supervisor. The more careless mistakes you make, the fewer responsibilities your supervisor will give you and the less you will learn.
- Ask questions. Never be afraid to ask if you’re unsure how to do something. Of course, don’t ask the same questions repeatedly, but if something isn’t clear, ask. Your supervisor would much rather explain something more in depth than have to put out fires later because of mistakes that were made.
- Make an effort to meet people around the office. If you ever find yourself next to someone you haven’t met, don’t hesitate to introduce yourself. The more people who know you or at least recognize you, the more opportunities that could potentially come your way in the future. Also ask to meet with your supervisor or other members on the staff who inspire you. It doesn’t matter if it’s for coffee, lunch, or just a brief meeting. The fact that you’re taking initiative to get to know people and learn from them, or to check in with your supervisor to see how your progress is going, will speak volumes to how passionate you are about the company and industry.
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