Making the Most of Your Internship
Getting the internship is just the first step. To make the most out of this opportunity and to increase your future competitiveness, you have to do more than just show up and follow directions. Here are some guidelines to maximize your overall experience.
- Exhibit a Positive Attitude.
Attitude speaks loud and clear and makes a lasting impression, so make sure that yours is one of your greatest assets. Take on any task assigned-no matter how small-with enthusiasm. Take the initiative to acquire new skills. Accept criticism graciously and maintain a sense of humor.
- Learn the Unwritten Rules of the Office.
Get to know your co-workers early in your internship. They will help you figure out quickly the culture of the organization. Watch closely how things get done, ask questions, and pay attention to how people interact with each other.
- Take Your Assignments Seriously.
Build a reputation for being dependable, diligent and accurate. You may encounter a great deal of uncertainty in the workplace, so ask questions and seek direction when in doubt and do whatever it takes to get the job done. Learn from your mistakes.
- Meet Deadlines.
Always assume the responsibility to ask when an assignment is due. This will help you understand your supervisor's priorities and manage your time accordingly. Alert your boss in advance if you will be unable to meet expectations. This shows respect and professional maturity.
- Set Realistic Goals and Expectations.
Match your learning goals with the daily work you are asked to perform. Maintain a journal of your activities and accomplishments in order to monitor your progress. Request regular reviews from your supervisor. Reinforce the fact that you mean business.
- Show Respect.
Assume that everyone else knows more than you do. However, don't be afraid to present useful ideas that may save time or money or solve problems. Just make sure your style does not come across as arrogant. Employers value assertiveness but not aggressiveness. Find out the proper way to address individuals, including customers, and maintain a pleasant, respectful demeanor with every person.
- Be Flexible.
Accept a wide variety of tasks, even those not directly related to your assignments or those that seem like grunt work. Your willingness to go the extra mile will pave the way to assuming greater responsibilities.
- Be a Team Player.
Learn how your assignment fits into the grand scheme of things and keep an eye on getting things done. In today's world, success is often defined as your ability to get along and interact with others.
- Find a Mentor.
Identify at least one individual to serve as your mentor. It should be someone willing to take a personal interest in your career development and success. Begin to network wisely and get connected with seasoned employees who may share their knowledge, perspectives and insights. Get noticed-many more people will have a role in determining future than you might realize.
- Have Fun!
Last but not least, enjoy learning, sharpening your skills and developing professionally and personally. Participate in work-related social functions and become an active member in your workplace.