It’s Internship Fair Season! Which means you’re scrambling to find that perfect pair of patterned dress pants, on the hunt for a leather portfolio, and begging the Career Center to print you one more stack of business cards.
Internships are a great way to build a killer resume and get your foot in the door for a potential full-time position post college! If you’re anything like me, you’ve already begun to panic thinking you just accepted a position to bring your boss coffee every day. Don’t worry, you didn’t. But now what?
To help you make the most of your internship experience, I’ve put together some things I have learned on how to really impress the company and be the best intern you can be!
1. Dress to Impress
My parents always told me, “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” and that couldn’t be more true! Looking professional not only makes a great first impression, but it also lets your managers and coworkers know you mean business. You want to make it clear to everyone that you are willing to put effort into your position. Plus, I believe if you look good, you feel good and then perform well. So why not rock that new blazer?
2. Find a mentor (or three)
College teaches you a lot of things, but what it often lacks is teaching you how to apply them. A mentor is a great resource in helping you learn which professional skills are necessary and which need improvement in order to prepare for a successful future career. Mentors can help you with you mock interviewing, networking, and assist in the development of core competencies. Make it a priority to meet with your mentor for coffee in between meetings or set scheduled time aside for sessions. Your mentor will be there to support you, give you advice, and teach you how to work in a professional setting.
Your college professors always talk about how important it is to network but never really explain how. It is more than just socializing with your coworkers. Networking is about sharing your interests and future goals with your colleagues, and from there you will most likely make connections and develop quality relationships. If you need help, ask your mentor to connect you with someone. The more people you know, the more support you will have in search of your full-time career. It is very important to make a genuine effort to stay in touch! Do not hesitate to send an email asking about how things are going or provide an update on your LinkedIn. Besides, they will probably be curious to see what you are up to, anyway!
4. Take Initiative
The advice I received before beginning my internship was, “Take it and run with it.” When given a project, it’s always good to exceed expectations and be proactive. If you are sitting around bored with nothing to do, ask for something to work on and confirm what they are looking for. There were times when I finished a project early and was ready for more work, which always impressed my manager and supervisor. If there is no current work to be assigned, take advantage of your time by reading articles related to business or by checking out any free classes or learning development resources your company provides!
5. Thank Everyone. Literally Everyone
After completing an internship, it is always polite and professional to give out thank you notes to those who impacted your experience. A thoughtful handwritten note is always recommended when you really want to show your appreciation and at the same time make a lasting impact. A memorable note can be the first step in developing a long-term professional relationship. If handwritten notes are not an option for you, a personalized email is great too! Whether it’s writing two notes or 47 (like I did), taking the time to write a sincere thank you will go a long way!