Monday, September 8, 2014

10 Things To Do To Make the Most of Your Internship

Image via Moraine Valley

With college students heading back to school this month, many are finishing up summer internships or starting one for the fall. Internships are a chance to understand an industry and gain valuable experience that can be used in future positions. Here are 10 things that you should do to make the most of your internship experience.

1. Ask Questions
Internships are the best time to learn about the industry that you want to work in one day. Do not be shy to ask questions. Not only does it show that you are proactive, but it also shows that you are interested in what is happening. If you do not understand something, be sure to ask someone. They would much rather answer a question than fix a mistake because you didn’t speak up.

2. Network
This is the perfect time to meet professionals and learn from your surroundings. From people in the office, to parties and events, there is always a time to network during your internship. These relationships can lead on to future connections at companies. You never know what could come of introducing yourself to someone at a professional function. Always take the chance and meet as many people as possible.

3. Take It All In
Although you are the bottom of the food chain at the company, this is the time to take it all in and find out what you do and don’t like about different job roles. It can be overwhelming being in a new environment, but it is important to not lose perspective and understand that you are there to learn.

4. Research, Research, Research
Image via CUNY
Research your company. This includes past work, their client list, and important people to know. Research the industry. Know the latest trends in the market, read trade magazines and papers and know the basics before you start. It will show initiative and leave you well prepared to answer questions and complete tasks.

5. Set Goals
Set both professional and personal goals. Sit down with your supervisor and ask them what they will expect from you while you intern. At the same time set personal goals on what you hope to take away from the experience, be sure to share these with your supervisor so they can help you achieve them. This will give you some structure to base your internship on.

6. Accept That Not Everything Will Be Fun
Because you are the intern, do not expect every task to be fun. You may get coffee, you could answer phones, and you will probably file papers. Although these are likely to be a part of the experience, the rest of your internship will be filled with interesting and educational projects. Once you learn to put your best effort into everything you will enjoy the experience much more. If you are doing more clerical work than projects, ask your supervisor for more responsibility.

7. Maintain Professionalism
This means follow the company dress code. You would rather be over dressed than underdressed. Err on the side of caution your first couple days. Maintain a positive and professional attitude. Do not let internal or external drama affect your work.

8. Be Enthusiastic
Always accept opportunities to go a step further. A positive attitude will help you move forward in your position as an intern. You could be asked to take on more responsibility as a result, and a full-time job could be in the cards if you maintain a relationship with the company.

9. Take Initiative
If you’re free, take every opportunity that is handed to you. Not only will you learn more, but you will be proactive and motivated. If your supervisor is not offering any new work, ask. You will not get anything if you do not ask. Show initiative.

10. Have Fun
Above all, make sure you are having fun and enjoying the experience. You are still a student so this is the perfect time to ask questions, make mistakes and take everything away from the internship that you can.

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