You’ve spent all week breaking in your new work-appropriate shoes, and now you are finally ready to set foot in your new internship office. Internships are great opportunities to gain work experience, build that perfect resume, and network, but you’ve got to impress your boss before you can climb up the rungs to summer intern success. Here are five key steps to earning gold stars from your boss this summer.
1. Be a Yes-Woman
There’s no better way to kick off a great impression than by being a positive go-getter! Alice Chen, 2012 graduate of Emory University, landed a position as Special Sections Assistant at Lucky Magazine halfway through her summer internship last year. She has found that “showing an eagerness and willingness to do any task, no matter how small, is what is most impressive to any boss.” It’s understandable that your dream role may not consist of pages on pages of reports every morning. But a positive attitude with the little tasks around the office may just mean that the boss will trust you to participate in the big pitch after all your hard work!
2. Go the Extra Mile
Take a cue out of Hercules’s book and put in that extra effort—you might find that it really makes a difference with your boss. Put in some additional hours if you can. It worked for Roxanna Coldiron, a recent graduate with a BA in Communication from Hiram College. “My intern supervisor at one of the city magazines I interned for actually said he was impressed because I would often show up early,” Roxanna says.
Heather Baldock from the University of Oregon agrees. “It really makes a difference when you volunteer to work after hours here and there, and also when you surprise your boss with some sort of independent work or research you've done for the organization,” Heather says. “I did some extra research into promo videos for the non-profit [I worked for] because I'd heard they were interested, and additionally wrote an article to publicize them in Her Campus. They were super impressed!”
Though most of us would rather flop down on the couch to a good run of old “How I Met Your Mother” episodes after a long day at work, taking some of your free time to do some research or put in a late night at the office could earn you some points with the boss. It also gives you a leg up if you do your research before coming in to work. Follow a few interesting blogs that cover trends in your industry, peruse a book or two, or check out our article on “Talk The Talk On Your First Day: The Terms You Need To Know Before You Start Your Summer Internship” to get started!
3. Be Professional
There is nothing less impressive than a sloppy work attitude. Appropriate attire should be a given—whether than means a pencil skirt and a blazer for the cubicle or a good pair of work pants to get down and dirty for some archaeological research, your work wardrobe should match your role.
Being professional may also mean logging off of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds during office hours. You want to show your boss you’re there to work, not to socialize! Alice has both acted as intern and worked with several interns herself. She notes that it is extremely important to “complete tasks quickly, efficiently and competently…you'd be surprised how many people can have the hardest time with even the simplest tasks!”
4. Be Fearless
Putting yourself out there and taking the extra initiative can go a long way to showing your boss that you’re motivated. “I’m always impressed when an intern comes up with an idea I haven't thought of, does extraordinary research on a story I'm working on, or isn't afraid to point out mistakes they see (since we're all human!),” says Alice.
Lily Herman, a collegiette at Wesleyan and campus rep for a product subscription service, took initiative in her position and reaped the benefits! During a Google Hangout with all the campus reps, she noted that the founder of the company expressed interest in starting a company blog but wasn’t familiar with the blogging scene. Lily took advantage of her extensive Tumblr experience and offered to both blog for the site and to develop blog followers.
After working with her boss on the project and developing an editorial calendar in accordance with her boss’s ideas, Lily gained full access to the blog account, which showed her that her boss had a ton of trust in her to represent the company. “Social media is no joke, especially for a new start-up!” Lily says. “It's been a great learning experience from so many different angles, and I've forged a meaningful relationship that I know I can absolutely come back to in the future.” Lily scored an official summer internship with the company, and now works closely with her boss to target specific audiences through social media. Working up the courage to take initiative in your role, like Lily did, can really pay off!
5. Enjoy it!
Not every job is a dream job, but the easiest way to motivate yourself to impress the boss is to really enjoy what you’re doing. Focus on an aspect of your position that you find interesting, befriend someone in the office, or try to incorporate one of your passions from outside the office. When you enjoy what you do, the hard work you put in will seem like a breeze!