How to Survive Your Internshipby Gina Tai on May, 28 2012
Whether you have an unpaid or paid internship, you’ll need some tips on how to successfully get the most out of your experience. Regardless of where you’re interning, it’s likely that you’ll encounter some challenging days or boring coffee-fetching days. So here are some tips to keep you from thinking, “Why am I here? I’m quitting next week.”
Learn as much as you can. You worked so hard to get the internship…now, work just as hard to acquire the knowledge and skills in the field. By shadowing your employer, you’ll understand how he or she executes office duties. Staying humble will allow you to open your mind. I always thought I was sufficiently confident and professional in cold calls. However, I didn’t understand that confidence and professionalism weren’t enough to obtain more “yes’s” from sponsors and partners for the company. From my employers, I learned that for different business industries, there are unique ways to appeal to others who may cherish a fun attitude over a strict, professional tone. Learning as much as possible involves doing all that is assigned and asking for more. Though it sounds a little demanding, one purpose of internships is, in fact, learning. Thus, doing more work allows you to explore more aspects of the company.
Get to know your employer. It’s all too easy to forget that employers are people with lives outside the work setting. They too have hobbies and personalities independent from the professional sphere. Understanding that fact is the first step to breaking down the awkward, invisible wall. Finding common ground between the two of you also makes work more bearable. I know for me, conversations involving good places to dine (I mean, really, who doesn’t appreciate good food?) and new blog topics have created a comfortable ambiance at the office. When your employer enjoys your company, it’ll be easier for him or her to trust you with more rewarding duties, thus enhancing your overall internship experience.
Network. You don’t have to attend networking events or business conferences to start networking. It starts here and now…right at the comfort of the office (or wherever it is you are interning). Even if you don’t end up enjoying the internship, it is still crucial to do the best and most thorough job you can in order to increase your networking opportunity. Everyone likes hardworking and passionate people. Exude your passion, and you’ll earn yourself a good recommendation on LinkedIn and a referral source for future jobs. Have a personable attitude and you’ll find yourself with many business connections!
Do’s: Wear appropriate attire (whether it be professional or casual), bring a positive attitude, stay on top of your work, ask for more if you can handle it, turn your electronics on silent, ask if you don’t understand a procedure, plan ahead if you need to take a day off…and make the most out of it!
Don’t: be late without reason, carry a bad attitude, procrastinate on duties, log into Facebook during internship hours, use your phone excessively for unrelated use, take excessively long breaks, forget to tell them about a vacation (and honestly, the list can go on and on).
Be open-minded! Internships exist to help you decide whether or not you would like to pursue that specific career. If it still isn’t something you enjoy at the end of summer, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere. Happy interning!