Internships have become a must for college students; without the work
experience they provide, the post-graduation job search is
significantly more difficult. But it’s not enough to simply get an
internship. You also need to impress the employer during your time
Here are 10 ways to get the most out of an internship:
1. Know what to expect. Generally, the idea behind
an internship is to give you some basic exposure to day-to-day work in
your field. In most cases, you will not be doing glamorous, substantive
work; you’ll be making other people’s lives easier. This means you may
get stuck photocopying, filing, arranging meetings, and completing
other tasks that may strike you as drudgery. In exchange, you get
exposure to the field and work experience to put on your resume.
2. Gain trust early on. If you excel at the boring
tasks and do them cheerfully, you may be given more interesting work.
Now, you may wonder what being good at photocopying has to do with your
ability to do, say, independent research. Here’s the connection: When
you come in as an intern, you haven’t proven yourself in the work world.
But if you do a great job on the boring work, you’ll show that you pay
attention to detail, follow instructions, and care about quality. Keep
up that track record, and eventually someone may let you try something
more interesting. But do a bad job on the basic stuff, and no one will
trust you with anything more advanced. So it’s important to go into the
job determined to do every task well, no matter how menial.
3. Pay attention to the office culture. Observe how
others in the office act, and mirror that. For instance, if employees
modulate their voices when others are on the phone, modulate yours. If
they’re compulsively on-time for meetings, you should be compulsively
on-time, too. Lots of little things like this will help you appear
professional. And while they may sound small, they’re likely to help you
stand out compared to other interns.
4. Focus. Don’t use social networking sites (unless
it’s part of your job) or text with friends throughout the workday. You
may be confident that it doesn’t distract you or affect your work, but
experienced managers have watched enough people to be confident that it
5. Take your work seriously. In school, if you made a
mistake on a test or paper, it only affected you. In many jobs,
mistakes are much more serious. If you do make a mistake, make sure you handle it correctly.
6. Ask for feedback. Every so often, ask your boss
how you’re doing. What could you be doing differently? Make it easy for
her to give you input that will help you grow.
7. Learn from your co-workers. Ask them about their
own careers. How did they get into the field? What do they like about
it? What do they find challenging? What advice do they have for you?
Most people love to talk about themselves and will be flattered that
you’re asking about their experiences. Best of all, it’s likely to make
them want to help you.
8. Dress appropriately. There’s no “intern
exception” in the dress code, and yet I’ve seen interns come to work
wearing flip-flops, ultra-low-rise jeans, visible bra straps, and worse.
If you look like you're dressing for a class rather than a job, you’re
signaling that you don't take your job seriously.
9. Ask for advice. Talk to people about your career
plans. Tell them you'd love any advice they have, either now or in the
future. Your co-workers can be helpful to you by telling you about job
leads, recommending you for a job, and helping you consider various
career choices. Though most people are happy to offer this kind of help,
they might not offer it if you don't explicitly ask.
10. Say “Thank you.” Talk to your manager about what
you’re getting out of your internship, and thank her for giving you the
opportunity to work there. We all love hearing the occasional
expression of appreciation, so don't be shy about offering it.