Photo illustration: Valerie Cheatham
So, you’ve landed a summer internshipworkingforacompany in your field of study – that’s great! Now what?
Internships are an increasingly important part of the workforce today – and you need at least one, if not several, under your belt to snag a good job after graduation. They provide a kind of initiation into your field of study, help you understand what the environment is like, and give you some experience with the workload.
Internship work is often menial and goes unnoticed – things like getting coffee, answering emails, making copies, etc. But regardless of the grunt work, here are four tips on how to make the most of your summer work.
First of all, and possibly the most important: – stick to the basics of being a good employee – dress professionally, speak respectfully, and never (ever ever ever) complain. Come early, work hard, leave late, don’t cut corners , and show an attitude of enthusiasm. Be the kind of intern that your manager will be happy they hired.
Second: Be social.
Brooke Walker, host of local lifestyle show “Studio 5”, has employed dozens of interns over the course of her career.
“The best interns put themselves out there,” she said. “They ask questions, they get to know everyone, and insert themselves in the office atmosphere. In short, they make themselves valuable to us.”
It can be uncomfortable to approach someone you don’t know and ask them if you can help with anything, but in no time, you will be seen as helpful and valuable. One very important part of internships is networking, or essentially leaving a good taste in your employer’s mouth. Then when it comes time to ask for a letter or recommendation, or put a reference on a resume, you can feel confident in the relationships you’ve made and the impression you’ve left.
Third: Pay attention.
It’s easy to get lost in menial tasks or just focus on “intern” duties. However, it’s important to take the entire experience in – for yourself. An internship can provide great insight into what role is best for you in the work environment. Take note of the differing roles you observe, and figure out where you’d fit in and what kind of jobs you want to apply for. That way, you can make the most informed decision possible come graduation and have a more focused goal for your career.
Again, you are on the bottom of the food chain as an intern, meaning it can be hard to ask follow- up questions or ask to be taught something, or for a process to be explained. But the more you are willing to put yourself out there and learn, the better work you’ll do and the more you’ll learn.
As a fully engaged intern, you will gain confidence in the work you’re doing, develop good and lasting relationships with those you work with, and a summer full of experiences that will put you ahead of the game.