For the past two summers, I have had the opportunity to intern. Here are some practical tips I have picked up along the way that I hope will help you when you are looking for an internship and to succeed once you’ve landed any job:
- Feedback is a Gift. From the very first steps of the job search to the final day of your internship, absorb all of the feedback that is provided to you. Whether that be through resume design, uncomfortable interview situations, rejections, accepting positions, the projects you complete, or your day-to-day interactions. Feedback is a gift and it is all around. An internship should be a safe space for you to learn and grow exponentially both professionally and personally.
- Filter your Opportunities. While brand awareness can be a valuable tool when future employers view your resume, ultimately you are selling yourself not the company where you interned. A small business with a well-cultivated and development-focused internship program will better equip you to enter the work force than a high-profile company who only trusted you to handle internal chores. Own your own development and decide what is the right opportunity for you personally.
- Set Personal Goals. Before you are even offered a job, take some time to write down what it is you want to get out of your potential employment opportunities. Communicate these goals with your supervisor or a trusted individual so that you will be held accountable. Approach everyday with those goals in mind to keep yourself motivated.
- Ask Questions. There is nothing wrong with not understanding or knowing how to complete a task. Seek clarity from the person who assigned you the project on what they are looking for or check in with them periodically to make sure you are on the right track. Don’t disqualify yourself from a project or conversation, instead take the opportunity to learn. Especially if you do not yet have your degree, you will have to rely on those with more knowledge and experience to help guide you and that is okay!
- Challenge Yourself. If you find you have extra time in your day, take initiative to work on other projects. Ask if there is anything else that you could do to help others on the team. Just as you are getting a lot out of the company, give back to them. Leverage your skills to increase engagement around the office. Maybe start a fun social media campaign or respectfully propose a new process for the business. Take out the trash, get the mail, organize cabinets, decorate your space. Be innovative and don’t let your time go to waste.
On a lighter note – drink coffee, bring a water bottle, don’t forget your charger, keep gum/mints and cosmetics in your bag, pack a lunch and snacks, wear comfortable shoes, smile, and most importantly – breathe.
The word internship may feel very adult and scary, but you do not need to stress. Allow yourself to relax and absorb all of the knowledge you can from those around you. Take this opportunity and use it as a launch pad into your next season of success.