You’ve applied to the internship. You’ve fretted about the interviews. And now you’ve been accepted to work at the company. If you’ve already gotten so far, congratulations! But this means it’s only just begun—so here are some tips to help you make the most of your internship.
Research the company: To stand out from the other interns, research your company as much as you can before the first day. This includes reading any trade newspapers that might be related to the industry you want to work in and trolling the Internet for any updates about the company. It’s also useful to talk to friends who have worked there in the past to get a sense of their experiences.
Arrive on time: It’s best to arrive on time or, better yet, early. If you show up late, it gives the impression that you don’t care very much or that you’re sloppy. If at all possible, stay late to show your dedication.
Complete tasks to the best your ability: Intern projects can run the gamut from menial tasks like coffee making and photocopying to more important things like writing proposals or creating a social media marketing plan. No matter what you’re assigned, do your best. Your best work will make an impression on your employer.
Learn new skills: An internship can really open doors for your career. You’ll be able to learn new ways of doing things and be given opportunities to work on different projects. Don’t be afraid and be willing to step outside of your comfort zone.
Keep an open line of communication: If you’re ever unsure of anything, never assume and make sure to ask questions. Update your supervisor periodically, so he or she knows the status of projects that you are working on. This will also help your supervisor give you as many assignments as possible and make your summer as productive as possible.
Take advantage of networking: As much as an internship can give you work experience, it can also introduce you to people in the industry. Consider printing out personal name cards from sites like Vistaprint, which you can give out to new people you meet. Attend happy hours and Meetups, join professional networking sites like LinkedIn and make sure you meet everyone you can at your company.
Don’t ignore your fellow interns: Take advantage of lunch or break times to introduce yourself to other interns. They will become your best of friends because they’ll understand exactly what you’re going through. It’s also nice to have allies if you ever need to pull late nights or early mornings.
Ask for informational interviews: Try to meet other employees through informational interviews, which allow you to learn about their work experiences. You should try to schedule these during your lunch break, so you don’t take time out from work, but you’ll have to schedule it at the person’s convenience. Offer to take them out to lunch or a quick coffee. These meetings will give you the opportunity to pick up useful advice. Once you’ve connected individually through an informational interview, add them to a professional social network like LinkedIn.
Say thanks: Before you leave, make sure to thank your internship advisor. You can write a card or give a small, thoughtful gift. (Too-extravagant presents create a weird vibe.) Small details really matter, and your supervisors will remember you for going the extra mile.
Stay in contact: After your internship, make sure to follow up with your employer every so often. If you read an interesting article or have any updates regarding your academic or professional pursuits, let your past employer know about it. They’ll appreciate periodic emails or, if you’re lucky, visits to the office.