6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship
Rather than spending the summer at home hanging out with friends, more and more students are realizing the absolute necessity to acquire an internship in order to compete in our volatile job market. A word of advice from someone who is already two years out of college, the earlier you take on internships in your collegiate career – the better. It’s a great way to show future employers that you were dedicated to developing your skill set from the moment you left high school.
While internships should be designed with the intent to teach you skills you cannot learn in the classroom — unfortunately, they’re not all the same. Since an internship is truly what you make of it (like everything else in life), below are some tips to help you use it for what it’s worth:
1) Set realistic goals and expectations during the interview: Depending on the industry you’re interested in, some employers may or may not have a structured internship program already in place. Regardless of whether there is structure, it’s important to communicate what you hope to achieve or learn from the internship. It’s also crucial to agree on mechanisms for evaluating your performance. If your internship consists of menial tasks,make sure you are shadowing a specific role or department.
2) Be professional: Although you’re a temporary commodity as an intern, it doesn’t mean you can disregard the basic rules of corporate culture: dress professionally, watch your language, don’t complain or speak negatively about your supervisor and/or coworkers, and do not share personal information.
3) <b>Network: Introduce yourself to other employees in the office. Ask questions about what they do in order to learn about their backgrounds and the culture of the company. This will expose you to other aspects of the industry that interest you, and help you build a book of contacts that can vouch for your work!
4) Ask for advice and feedback from your supervisor: This is a great way to stay on target and to ensure both you and your supervisor are meeting the expectations of the internship. If you’re exceeding your supervisor’s expectations, don’t hesitate to ask for more assignments/projects. Lastly, try to meet with your supervisor at least once a week or follow up with questions via email.
5) Prove your value to the company: If you’ve landed your dream internship and want to turn it into your dream job, prove to your supervisor that you possess the qualities he or she is looking for in an employee. Even if your internship doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped, still put your best effort forth in order to acquire valuable contacts for future reference.
6) Come up with solutions: Most supervisors are not interested in micromanaging, therefore, it’s important to learn how to take the reins and try to come up with solutions to problems. However, it is O.K. to ask a supervisor what they think of your proposed solution before moving forward. Giving your own input demonstrates that you are able to maintain a level of independence, which is key to being successful in any career.