7 Ways to Maximize Your Internship

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

All your hard work for getting that internship has finally paid off, but now what? Whether it’s a 10 week summer internship or a part-time internship while you’re studying, follow these tips below to impress your employer.

1. Do research before your first day.
Research your position and duties and make sure you’re capable of doing what you’re responsible for. If you don’t know how to use Excel and are supposed to, take a Udemy class. Brush up on skills you told your interviewer you had such as SEO or using social media tools like Hootsuite. You can also reach out to interns who have previously interned at the company or friends who have done a similar role at a different company for advice before the internship starts.

2. Connect with other interns on LinkedIn when you meet them. I interned with Southwest recently and met so many other amazing interns during my 15 weeks there. While I did not want to go around adding 50+ people on Facebook and did not feel close enough to most of them to add them on social media, LinkedIn is a great way to stay connected in a professional setting. It’s also fun to see their LinkedIn posts on what amazing things they do during and after the internship. It’s also great to connect with other people in the office such as your recruiter or supervisor after a couple weeks of working.

3. Formalize meetings with your supervisor or manager.
Have weekly or bi-weekly check-ins to make sure you’re on track, especially if you want a return offer. This really shows initiative. Invite your supervisor to a recurring meeting on their calendar. Some weeks you may not need to meet with them, but it’s better to block off that 15 - 30 minute slot early on in the internship. This is a great way to get feedback before it’s too late and to make sure you are meeting expectations.

4. Ask questions and ask why.
This seems obvious, but so many interns don’t speak up when they don’t understand something. Always ask questions when appropriate (obviously, don’t ask questions that undermine your project or your team if the client is in the room). Ask why or what the reasoning behind something is. An internship is an incredible learning opportunity. The questions I’ve asked during my internships have led me to making edits in projects that my team otherwise would have missed.

5. Dress to impress.
Figure out the dress code before your first day of work. Usually it’s written in an email, or you can email your supervisor and ask. Better safe than sorry aka always dress more formally if you’re unsure of acceptable workplace attire. Don’t be the first one in your office to wear sneakers or sandals. Wait a week or two and look at the others in the office before deciding what’s really appropriate versus not appropriate work clothes.

6. Ask for more, but also know your workload.
If I am ever not busy during an internship, I ask for more work from my immediate supervisor. If my immediate supervisor doesn’t have more work for me, that’s when I turn to other members in the office or ask my supervisor if they knows who needs help on the team. I love getting my hand’s metaphorically ‘dirty’ and learning as much as I can during an internship. However, be cautious that you do not take on more than you can reasonably do. There have been a couple times where I had stacked deadlines after saying yes to helping multiple people and had to work through lunches. I’ve never not finished work, but let’s just say I’d prefer to not have to inhale my Wendy’s in less than 5 minutes or eat my Pret while sitting in front of my computer.

7. Track your accomplishments!

I always keep a list of all the projects I work on and complete during an internship. Usually a simple word document with bullet points is enough. This is so helpful for updating your resume, but is also a great reference in the future when you have to speak on your internship experiences. Your employer will also appreciate an itemized overview of your work when it is time to write your reference letter.

As my dad would say, “Work hard, but also work smart.”


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