You agonized over the perfect cover letter and interview process and now you’ve successfully landed your first internship-hooray! Interning is a critical part of college nowadays and provides great opportunities to find out what you like (and dislike!) as well as get “your foot in the door”. I remember the nerves starting out, but after interning 3 summers + 2 semesters, I’m here to share advice on how to be a great intern and get the most out of your experience.
How to Achieve Internship Success:
This sounds like a given but now more than ever it’s important to step up your game. For example, showing up on time, or even a little early, creates your persona as a reliable young professional.
Follow the Dress Code:
While it’s a hassle to trade up your wardrobe, it is necessary for most office environments. Building a business casual wardrobe doesn’t have to happen overnight (hint: thrift stores!) but following the dress code makes people take you seriously. When you go in for orientation get a sense of what your office will be like. My office is casual, but I keep things one-notch above with office-appropriate dresses or pants and dark jeans on Fridays.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions:
I am lucky to be interning for a company of genuinely friendly people. But I’ve found overall in the workplace people are responsive and helpful to interns who ask questions. Whether it’s about a project or where a conference room is, ignorance is not bliss. Asking for help shows you are taking initiative and people will respect you more for doing so.
Talk to People in the Office- Make Friends!
I know the idea of creating conversation with “real” adults can be intimidating, however most want to get to know the new person in the office. Talking to people in the field can be a goldmine of information of what someone’s day-to-day job role actually is. Reaching out to coworkers can be as simple as offering to do a Starbucks run and asking who wants to join. If your HR department hosts office activities, I recommend you attend those to help build connections. Trust me- breaking the ice makes the office a more comfortable and fun place to be.
Part of being an intern is being a little lower on the food chain, which sometimes requires being flexible. While I have always been treated with respect, and advocate you leave if you are not, sometimes you have to be flexible, whether it’s moving offices or helping out another department sometimes. It leaves the impression you have a can-do positive attitude towards a variety of work.
Go the Extra Mile:
Beyond the hope that you always want to produce quality work, internships are great for building job references within your field or organization’s network. AKA it is doubly advantageous you produce great work. Sometimes you may have to put in an extra hour or two at home or on the weekend during the big push for a project- that’s okay! Take the time to double check your work and what you send off.
Stepping into an internship can be nerve-wracking at first, but it truly is rewarding. Make the effort to be a great intern and reap the benefits of gaining experience and connections in your field!