If you are lucky enough to score an internship while in college, use the time to your best advantage. Not only will it be a great resume builder, but you’ll learn some valuable skills along the way. If you want to rock your internship, follow this advice.
Arrive early, every day
If you’ve never had a job before, you might not understand the importance of showing up on time. You might think that arriving 5-10 minutes late is not a big deal, but your employer sees it differently. Tardiness is seen as disinterest, disrespect and defiance toward office rules. Make it a habit to show up early every day, and be punctual for meetings. Employers notice when you’re late and when you’re early. Stay on the good side of that equation.
Dress the part
Some workplaces require staff to wear suits, some opt for business casual, and some allow for jeans or shorts. Take your cue from your supervisor, unless he or she dresses like a slob! Regardless of the official dress code, make a point to look put-together each day. If your office is casual, wear clean jeans and a wrinkle-free top. If business casual is the norm, dress conservatively and save the short skirts and skin-tight tops for date night. If you need to wear suits, learn how to mix and match your clothes to extend your wardrobe.
Have razor-sharp focus
While you’re on the clock, devote yourself to the job. Others might be on social media or surfing the web, but I can guarantee you, they won’t be offered full-time employment after the internship is over. When you are given a task, perform it to the best of your ability and see it through to the end.
Understand the project
It’s tempting to act like you know what is expected of you, but you’re an intern, you really don’t know much yet! When you are given a project, ask a lot of questions up front so you can excel at the task. If tasks seem menial at first, it’s because your employer is trying to figure out your skills, your ability to follow directions, and your willingness to be a team player.
Use your skills!
You were hired because your employer liked your resume and how you performed in the interview. That means you have skills that your employer needs, so use them! If you are a whiz at databases or spreadsheets, make that known. You might be a gifted writer or sharp with social media; use the skills you’ve cultivated and you will soon stand out from the crowd.
Complete tasks on time, or early
Most projects have a firm deadline because your task is tied to someone else’s task. Focus on meeting your deadlines, and always be ready for the next assignment.
Ask for feedback
If your employer does not have a formal performance review process for interns, ask your supervisor for feedback. The only way for you to improve is to know what you’re doing well, and what needs work. Remain open to suggestions, and then take any constructive criticism to heart. Some input might seem trivial, like talking too loud or mindlessly playing with your hair, but those are traits that others find really annoying.
Arrange informational interviews
There is no better time to ask for informational interviews than when you are an intern. Officers and managers are usually good about giving interns 15-30 minutes of their time, but those same people will rarely take your call after you leave the company. During the informational interview, ask questions about how that person got started, what education they have, how they got promoted, and what advice they might have for you. Basically ask a lot of questions and listen.
Realize this is an extended interview process
Yep, your entire internship is one long interview. Your employer will get to see how you act on the job, what others say about you, and how well you perform tasks and projects. Take the advice above, and you will rock your internship!