While many college students are aware of the benefits of internships, very few young interns know how to make the most of the intern experience.
If you want to get ahead of the pack and really maximize the benefits of your internship, it will require more effort than simply showing up for work each day!
These six surprising tricks of the trade will help you maximize the benefits of your internship experience.
1. Be punctual, put together and professional.
These three seem completely obvious, but it’s easy to forget the three big P’s – punctual, put together and professional – when you’re just starting out. Keep in mind that your superiors will later write letters of recommendation. The last thing you want them remembering is your sub par appearance or inappropriate office chit chat. So keep the grubby Converse sneakers and hard-partying anecdotes at home!
2. Ask to be taught.
Just because you’re an unpaid intern, doesn’t mean you have the right to be any less professional than the rest of the office – however you do have the right to know less than everyone else in the office! Internships are all about learning, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Don’t be shy about approaching coworkers to ask for help. A bit of gentle flattery never hurts: “I’d really like to know more about xyz – you know so much about it that I was hoping you could teach me a thing or two.”
3. Show off your best work.
One big mistake interns often make is viewing their internship as little more than a way to fill up their resume and get a letter of reference. Especially for unpaid internships, it can be totally tempting to do the bare minimum – trust me, I’ve been there! Avoid the temptation to do anything less than your best.
Your efforts can make the difference between simply getting a reference letter versus having your supervisor go through her contact list to personally put you in touch with future employers.
4. Demand extra responsibility.
In addition to asking your superiors to help you learn more, you should also ask for more responsibilities at work. You will learn new skills, and your boss will take notice of the intern that is eager to contribute that little bit extra.
If there’s some type of happy hour or event going on outside of office hours, you should always join. You’ll be able to connect personally with your coworkers and build a more meaningful, memorable connection with them — and network for jobs at the same time! Just make sure to keep it professional (aka don’t drink too much or share inappropriate personal details)!
6. Don’t lose touch.
Once you’ve completed your internship and followed the checklist above, it may be tempting to just grab your stellar letter of reference and run. Make an effort to keep in touch with both your boss and coworkers, however – these are people with industry know-how and contacts, and they might just help you land your first job after college!
This will help keep you fresh in their memories – and that’s really the main goal of these tips to maximize your internship’s benefits: learning as much as possible, while making a lasting impression on people who can help you down the line.