Spring is here, bringing with it “internship season.”
With many colleges and universities requiring their students to have an internship and studies that have shown that internships are likely to make it easier to get a job post-graduation (with around 60% of college graduates who completed a paid internship while in school received at least one job offer), a large majority of college students complete an internship during their time in school.
Once you’ve completed your killer resume and blown them away at the interview it is important to stay on top of your A-game and be a standout intern. How do you impress your employer, be the best intern, and increase your chances of landing an “adult” job post-graduation?
Since I’ve never hired an intern myself, I decided to turn to my manager and get her advice. For the past year I’ve interned under the same manager, and I love working for her. In fact – a few weeks ago I was able to accept an offer and turn my internship into a full-time job (even with my graduation 8 weeks away)! How can you be a standout intern and increase your chances of turning your internship into a full-time job, post-graduation?
Here are internship tips, on how to impress your employer and be a great intern, straight from my manager (who has employed a lot of interns) and myself (who recently turned my internship into a full-time job)!
1. Observe Office Culture
Day one of working at any new place is nerve wracking. What do I wear? Do I let my boss know when I go on a break or do they not care? How formal does my email correspondence need to be?
As you continue to work in your internship, observe office culture and try to fit in. Take a look at how your coworkers dress, the noise level in your office, behaviors, relationships, and other habits. Keep your individuality, but be respectful by paying attention to how those around you act and follow their example.
2. Ask Questions Before Starting
You’re new to the job, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing!
If your manager is giving you a task and you are confused, ask as many questions as you can about the task upfront. It’s better to get all of the information that you need before starting a task to make sure you do it right, instead of wasting all of your energy and everyone’s time on doing a task incorrectly because you didn’t want to ask questions.
3. Proofread Before you Submit
Remember that you are in a professional setting, and the work that you turn in should be top notch.
Proof read emails, projects, papers, and anything else that you are working on before you submit it for review. Make sure that your point is coming across clearly and that you are putting your best foot forward in your work.
4. Don’t Act Like Things are Beneath You
“Intern duties” are definitely a thing – take it with grace.
While your internship may not be the cliche movie internship of running to get everyone in the office’s coffee and dry cleaning, you may still have to do some grunt work tasks that you aren’t a fan of. Taking these undesirable tasks in stride shows great work ethic and proves to your manager that you are capable of handling more complicated tasks in the future. Make a name for yourself by being a good sport and willing to complete those tasks which aren’t very fun to do, but are essential to your department.
On the other hand, if you find that your internship is not what you signed up for and is just running errands/getting coffee/doing grunt work and you aren’t learning anything or being able to do work that actually helps the company, stand up for yourself. Don’t let the company walk all over you just because you are an intern.
5. Take Your Internship Seriously & Show Up
Yes, it is an internship, but it’s also your job. Taking your internship seriously and treating it like a “real” job is incredibly important to your success as an intern. Don’t slack off, become a no show, or drop tasks you don’t care about or don’t think are important to you personally.
No matter what industry your internship is in, this internship is a real stepping stone into your future career. Treat it as such… and be aware that your managers at this internship will most likely become job references in the future. Leave them only good things to talk about.
6. Anticipate Needs
While you don’t have to be all Devil Wears Prada and have your manager’s coffee order, breakfast, and printed schedule ready as soon as she arrives (could you imagine?) you should be able to anticipate their needs a bit.
If your schedule is pretty free and you notice that your manager’s schedule is packed for the day, stop by and ask if they need any help with any projects. If you sat in on a meeting where something specific was discussed and it seems like your manager forgot that, don’t be afraid to remind them or go above and beyond by doing it yourself or offering to help out.
7. Don’t Just Do it – Do it Well
Don’t do the bare minimum – make a good impression by making sure everything you submit is top notch. Don’t go to work and go home – create relationships with your co-workers by going out to company lunches, going to departmental bonding activities, and stopping by a co-workers cubicle to chat about how their weekend went.
Share your skills and expertise that may not be directly related to what you’re working on right now, and find a way to apply it. Find a hole and fill it. Make yourself indispensable and it will make finding a job afterwards so much easier.
How do you position yourself as a stand out intern? Share your internship tips below!