Your first internship is important. You get to take a backseat view of the industry that you hope to be in when you graduate. It’s also the first opportunity for you to apply everything that you are currently learning in school. Moreover you get to make valuable connections with fellow students and industry leaders. Needless to say, that it’s important for you to go about your first internship the right way.
Here are some tips that I have learned from my first internship:
-Network as much as possible
At first networking can feel quite nerve wracking. You don’t know the person and yet you’re willing to connect with them over lunch or coffee. However believe me once you get passed that awkward stage, you will really see the benefits of it all. So during your internship make you sure that you’re interacting with people as much as you can. You never know what they could bring to the table. One thing about networking is that it does not always have to be so serious and formal. You could find yourself in a situation where you connect with someone over an insignificant thing that you like. My friend for example met her mentor at the gym. They were both on the treadmill and ended up connecting over their shared love for the gym. It’s easy to network, you simply have to go out of your comfort zone and meet people.
-Do more than asked
Don’t just wait for your boss to give you assignments. Take initiative. One thing that managers love is when interns or employees are proactive. I mean wouldn’t anyone like it if their employee anticipated their needs? So take initiative. If you work in a team, ask to see if anyone needs help. It’s important for you to understand the role well in order for you to know the tasks that will need to be done. This proactive attitude will get noticed by managers and recruiters. During my first internship, my boss was very impressed with the way I handled tasks. He was especially impressed with how I was willing to help in any way that I can. It’s important for you to do more than the minimum.
-Document the work that you are doing
This might be one of the most underrated piece of advice when it comes to a new job. It’s important for you to document the projects that you are working on. It’s a good way for you to leverage especially when looking for a new position. People love seeing hard evidence. Of course it’s great that you have all this experience but someone else competing for the same job has it too. However you could add your competitive edge by showing something that you have accomplished. For instance my friend was interviewing for a very important position at a prestigious company last summer. After 4 interviews and one test, the managers told her that they had a hard time choosing between her and another qualified person. She then had the idea of showing them a project that she worked from her last job and ended up getting the position. The managers told her that it was the initiative of showing them the project that won them over. So use your accomplishments during your first internship as leverage to secure other ones.
Starting an internship is an important step in building your professional career. If done right you could make some valuable connections, get great recommendations and be well on your way to a successful post- college career.
Christy Joseph, Writer, Shortstints