As the Fall 2016 semester ends, so do many internships. It seems like just a few weeks ago you were nervously triple-checking the length of your tie in the mirror before heading in for your first day as an intern. Fast-forward four months and it is time to end your internship, and you can hardly recognize that timid, unsure person you were when you began. Here are six tips on how to make the most of your internship.
Always Carry a Notebook
Keeping a notebook on hand at all times is essential to your success as an intern. While your first few days might not be as overwhelming as you expected, soon you will be working on several accounts, juggling multiple tasks for each. No matter how good you think your memory is, it never hurts to have notes to reference a few times throughout the day to ensure you are managing your time wisely.
Undoubtedly you will run into tasks you do not fully understand, or hit a dead end on some research. Look around you! You are in a room overflowing with knowledge and experience in the form of your co-workers. Don’t be afraid to ask for a few minutes of someone’s time to gain insight on how they might approach the task. While the internet probably has the answer you are looking for, asking a co-worker with experience brings a brand new perspective to light.
You have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth for a reason – you should be looking and listening twice as much as you speak. Pay attention to how your mentor interacts with their colleagues, responds to emails, speaks on the phone, and communicates in general. Do your best to emulate that. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either. It’s okay to not understand everything right away – in fact you aren’t expected to as an intern.
The way you dress, speak, and carry yourself says a lot about the person you are. Show up to your internship on time, every time, dressed to impress and be consistent with what you wear – even if you are the only person in the office wearing a tie and slacks. Proofread your work for consistent AP style usage and grammatical errors, as those are the simplest mistakes to make, yet the easiest way to make a great impression on the person editing your work if avoided. Attention to the small details will carry you a long way.
Expect Constructive Criticism
After all, you are here to learn. The ones providing the feedback are the industry professionals who are, well, professionals. Welcome any constructive criticism with open arms and take note of what they are telling you (there’s that notebook again!) – there’s a good chance that what their advice will improve the quality of your work in the long run.
Wear Yourself Out
Like my mom always said as she was waking me up for swim practice in high school – “There’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead. But you aren’t yet so it’s time to get going!”
Interning is not for the faint of heart or the sleepy. Some days you may find yourself running on a few hours of sleep, a lot of caffeine, and then you get invited to help out with an event after your regular intern hours.
My advice: if there is any minute possibility you can attend – DO IT. Not only is this a great learning experience, it is an opportunity for you to show your dedication, bond with your co-workers, and possibly meet some other professionals in your industry. Like the incredibly overused cliché goes – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
If you follow these tips, at the end of your internship you might find yourself with a job offer and, if not that, then you will have at least earned an awesome letter of recommendation, a boat load of experience, and a few (or more) industry connections.
Then again, what do I know? I’m just an intern! Good luck!
This article was written by Steven Brooks, a participant in our 2016 Fall Internship program. Are you a college student looking for an internship? Check be here for our next intern opportunities.
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