With the stretch run of the semester already here, it is application season for students looking for internships for the summer. With that being said, I want to offer tips describing how to make the most out of any internship.
1. Ask questions.
Internships can be paid or unpaid. If you receive the latter, your foregone wages are exchanged for the professional experience you acquire. One of the best ways to gain more experience is to do what many people don’t: ASK QUESTIONS. Sometimes the only way to find something out is to ask and your supervisor will most likely appreciate the question. You will appear dedicated to your position and the company. Note: Make sure what you ask can’t be easily answered by conducting an online search.
2. Ask for more.
As an intern, you may get stuck doing random tasks (i.e. making copies) that may not develop advanced professional skills. Do the work and do it well. Obviously supervisors appreciate hard workers but you can distinguish yourself by asking for additional responsibilities. This will help display good work ethic and will allow you to practice or acquire new skills in the process.
3. Network, Network, Network.
Professional contacts are the most valuable thing you will gain from your internship. Whether it is your boss, their boss, or the CEO of the company, maintain the connection. How? You can call or email them, but remember to keep it professional. Also, create and maintain a LinkedIn profile. It is similar to having a Facebook profile, except it is used to display your professional experience and skills. Take advantage of the networking opportunities it provides.
4. Ask for feedback.
The only way to know for sure how you are performing during your internship is to ask your boss. Not only will you look like a dedicated worker – you will also be able to grow professionally and adapt using their feedback. What are you doing well? What areas could you improve upon? How so? This is another opportunity to ask for more responsibilities – if you believe you can handle them.
5. Track your results.
One of the most important aspect of resumes is specificity. Any job-related skills/programs or statistics can be helpful to further develop your resume. If you are completing research, take notes on the subject and different areas that you studied in addition to listing any skills or programs you acquired from it. If you are a marketing intern, note percentage increases for events you advertise or for social media followings that you contributed to.
Internships are great opportunities to gain professional experience, but so often students do not distinguish themselves from their fellow interns. Do not allow that to happen to yourself! Be confident, yet willing. Approachable, yet professional.
Good luck to everyone securing a position for the upcoming summer!