Internships. Internships. Internships. If you’re like me, you’ve been hearing about how important they are since like, your first day of class freshman year. Seriously. By now, you’re probably sick of professors, parents, and advisors pushing you to apply for internships, but they really are the key to getting the job you want in the future! Internships are an awesome way to gain experience in your field and meet professionals who can help you get your foot in the door. They’re also a great way to totally impress people so that maybe it could lead to a full-time job someday!
So to make sure you really kill it at your next internship, here are seven ways to nail your fall internship:
1) Be well prepared (if not overly prepared) for your first day.
It’s important to start your internship off strong, which means showing up super prepared. Dressing appropriately is a big part of this! Your supervisor may email you ahead of time telling you the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of office dress. But if they don’t, you can never go wrong with business casual. Throw on black slacks, a nice shirt and a blazer, or a dress with a sweater and flats. Just make sure it’s nothing too tight, too revealing, or too short, of course. Also, set aside some time a few days before you start to figure out how to get to your internship so you don’t get lost. Either drive there and see how long it takes or, if you’re internship is in the city, practice your subway and walking route! And the last tip: go stocked with a notepad, pens, water, your laptop, and anything else you think you may possibly need. You can never be too prepared.
2) Be confident.
It’s important to make a good impression right from the get-go, but don’t get too worked up about it. Just breathe. It’s totally normal to be nervous for your first day (or even within your first week). But remember, you got this internship for a reason. So relax and have a little faith in yourself — you’re going to be awesome! To make sure you come off as confident as possible, make sure to give a firm handshake and look people in the eye when you’re meeting them for the first time.
3) Stay focused.
As an intern, you’re guaranteed to have downtime. At my internship this past summer, there were days when I had task after task with barely any time to breathe. There would also be days when I had practically nothing to do and would sit in my cubicle bored out of my mind. As you could probably guess, the latter situation makes passing time on your phone or computer extremely tempting. My advice? Stay off Facebook and Instagram and lay off the Snapchats. Instead, use that time to brainstorm more ideas of work-related things you could do and then pitch your ideas to your supervisor when he/she has time to listen. Everything you do at your internship has the potential to get you recognized, and the last thing you want to get recognized for is being on your phone all the time.
4) Stay productive.
This kindof goes hand in hand with the previous tip, but make sure you are always, always being productive. When your supervisor asks you to do something extra or to help out at an event, always say yes! In other words, never turn down tasks — it will definitely make you look bad. If you’ve finished all your tasks for the day but still have an hour in the office, ask your supervisor if there’s anything else he/she needs you to do! If the answer is no, then go around and ask other employees if they need a hand with anything. There’s bound to be someone (even if it’s not your boss) in the office who could use you for something.
5) Be reliable.
It’s important to establish yourself as someone who can be trusted at the workplace. But trust isn’t just given — it’s earned! In my opinion, the best way to gain your employer’s trust is to be a reliable worker. Make sure to always show up to work on time (unless you’ve informed your supervisor you’d be late) and be on time or early when it comes to meeting deadlines. If it’s already five o’clock but you’re only halfway finished an assignment, stay a little late and finish it up rather than waiting for tomorrow. It will show that you’re dedicated to getting things done rather than getting out of the office as fast as you can.
6) Talk to people.
Even if you’re shy (like me!) you should try to get to know as many people at your internship as possible. You may be introduced to a few other interns or employees on your first day, but take it upon yourself to stick your hand out to others and introduce yourself to as many people as you can! Internships are a great way to make connections, and in today’s day and age, connections are how you get jobs. Talk to employees and ask them how they got to where they are today and if they have any advice for you. Most people are always willing to share their story and help a young intern because chances are they were once an intern too!
7) Make sure you actually have time to do your internship to the best of your ability.
For some of us, we’re working, taking classes, and participating in extra curricular activities during the school year — it can be hard to balance an internship on top of all of that! So before you accept, make sure your class schedule is light enough that you’ll have the time and energy to give 100% at your fall internship. You don’t want to overload your schedule so much that you fall behind in your classes or completely wear yourself out at your internship. If you know you want an internship during the school year, be proactive and plan accordingly! But if you think it might be too much to handle, hold off on your dream internship until the summer when you can really focus on being the best intern you can be.