I remember when I got my first internship….damn, was I happy and proud. At the age of 17,I felt so accomplished and I felt like I was taking the first step towards my future career. Although internships get a bad rep for having you do “bitch work”, stupid tasks, and sometimes you actually find yourself just sitting there on some days twiddling your thumbs…you can really learn from them and see how an office & departments within the office function. Not only do you have the opportunity to first hand shadow your supervisor, but you also get the inside look into the work that they do. Certainly this “behind the scenes” look can help you determine whether you want to continue that career path and learn more before fully committing to a career you are not yet sure about. As an intern your job is always to observe, learn, and even incorporate your own help and ideas into existing/new projects. Exposing yourself to a professional environment will not only give you more responsibility, experience, and good word of mouth, but it will also enable you to make more contacts whom may be useful in helping you establish your professional career in the future.
Although internships vary upon company, department, and SUPERVISOR (trust me that is probably the most important factor of your time there) you always need to make yourself known in the building.
Here are my top 7 tips on how to have a successful run during your internship:
- Always look the part/stay professional- Clothing, etiquette, and all! Always dress for the job you want and make yourself look put together. No one will ever trust or rely on a slob to do their work. Also, always show your manners your parents taught you. Please & thank you’s all the time!
- Always ask whether they need more help with anything- No trust me you’re not annoying! Your supervisors have so much work on their plates, the last thing they actually are thinking about is giving you work. If something pops up they will let you know. If you’re stuck there with nothing to do then kindly ask, maybe something will be thrown your way But no, you are def not annoying, you are just simply being proactive!
- Try to incorporate yourself through small talk with coworkers- Get to know the people in your office, have small talk if you both have time. You never know who you can get the best advice from and who you might work with in the future. It’s also interesting to see how each individual started off in the career you would like to pursue, it can give you ideas, advice, and a mentor to look to!
- Always personally introduce yourself to everyone and anyone in the office- Don’t be rude! Get out there and say hi! No one will turn you away for being friendly. Some people may be more hesitant or not as enthralled to meet you, but at least you gave it a try! You never know who you can meet!
- Always willfully do any task given to you, with a smile on your face- You want me to pick up your lunch across the street? OF COURSE. You also want me to drop of this FedEx for you? ANYTHING FOR YOU! ALSO, WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO GRAB YOU AN ICED TEA ON THE WAY? Always be thoughtful and resourceful. Do more than you are supposed to, offer things, and do it out of the kindness of your heart. People will learn to appreciate you. If you don’t feel like doing the extras don’t, people can definitely tell when you’re trying to kiss ass or if you actually are doing things out of kindness and willingly!
- Realize that you are there to learn, you won’t be given all the perks or power to execute huge projects-Sometimes you feel like you can handle more responsibility, but remember you still have a lot more to learn before you can make the big moves. You don’t understand everything going on behind the scenes just yet, that’s what you are there for…remember? So don’t let your lower level work affect you. All the small things you complete will only give you more responsibility to tackle something bigger and more important in the latter.
- Remember all good things take time- Don’t rush things. Yes, I get you want your dream job now but as Drake says “started from the bottom, now we here“. Everyone has a starting point and this is yours. No one becomes a CEO at the snap of a finger. So understand you have your dues to pay and all the work you complete now will be reflected in your future. Stay strong and persevere!