Your bag is packed. The anticipation is building. You can’t wait to meet new people and make all the memories.
Welcome to your summer internship. (Oh, did you think we were talking about a vacation? Nah, not for business school students.)
Internships are the perfect way to gain valuable work experience while expanding your professional network — not to mention, the people you’re interning for today could one day be interviewing you for something full-time. That means, it’s important to treat your summer internship like a real job.
As always, we’re here with some tips on how to get through it with ease. Follow our 7 tips to take your summer internship to the next level.
Do Your Research.
Even before you step into the office, you’ve got an assignment — research the company you’ll be working for so that you have an edge on your first day. As a new intern, you’re probably heading into an unfamiliar workplace. Knowing the company’s history, recent news and top executives will make you feel more confident as you get used to your new environment. And, your newfound knowledge (rather than a blank stare and “Who? What? Huh?!?”) will no doubt impress your supervisors.
Write Down Your Goals.
People who write down their goals are more likely to reach them. No really, studies have shown that to be true. When it comes to an internship or any temporary position, be sure that you set goals for yourself and know what you’re working toward. Once your first week of internship is over and you’ve gotten a better idea of what to expect, spend some time reflecting and identifying which goals you’d like to reach by the end of it. They could be practical things like arriving early every day or staying late, or more long-term goals like contributing to a major project.
A notepad should be your best friend during your internship, especially on your first few days. Always take notes in meetings (unless otherwise instructed) so that you don’t forget important things that were mentioned. When your supervisor assigns a project, he or she will appreciate your attention to detail by taking notes, and you’ll be able to follow up with those notes as you work on the task to ensure you’re meeting his or her expectations. And, the Notes app on your phone might be great, but keep that only for personal use. Opt for pen and paper or your computer at work instead.
Pay Attention to Company Culture.
Yes, you want to stand out as an intern. But, you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. Pay attention to the company’s culture on your first few days — the way employees dress or where they go for lunch — to make sure you’ll be on the same page. Adapting to the culture will also make it easier for you to create contacts and expand your network during your internship.
Your organization skills can make the difference between an average and a successful internship. Start preparing how you’ll stay organized even before you start: figure out where you’ll keep your to-do list, decide on a filing system and buy any new office supplies you think you might need. Another good idea is to keep a working list of future activities in case you have any downtime throughout the day where nothing specific has been assigned to you. That could be a great opportunity to do research for a future project or get ahead on a long-term work goal.
Share Your Ideas.
If your supervisor asks for your input or ideas, don’t be afraid to speak up! Most companies value hearing opinions from new employees and interns, since they bring a fresh perspective to the team. Of course, you should always keep in mind that not all your ideas may be implemented — your supervisors have greater knowledge about the company and what may or may not work. Do your research before you share, but be confident when offering your input.
Network and Keep in Touch.
Networking among your fellow interns will be fun and valuable, but don’t be shy when it comes to getting to know company employees well into their careers. Ask your supervisors for advice about your own career plans, or suggest a meeting to hear how they got to their current role. Once your internship is over, make an effort to connect on LinkedIn (check out our list of 7 Tips for a Stand-Out Profile on LinkedIn) and keep in touch throughout the rest of your college career by emailing occasional updates or meeting up for coffee. This will help keep you on the company’s radar and be considered for future opportunities.
By Priscilla Aceves