After weeks of polishing your resume, begging your peers and colleagues for feedback, hours of interviews and sleepless nights, you finally land an internship for the summer.
Summer is the most competitive season for interns because with no classes, everyone has time to intern. While nailing a summer internship can be hard, sometimes the harder part is getting noticed at your internship, or learning all the skills you hoped to acquire. With giant offices and teams of interns, it’s easy to get lost in a crowd or get intimidated by the office setting. Many of my friends have told me that once they step foot in that office, they often get forgotten in the cubicle, left to twiddle their thumbs or pretend they’re working.
Here are some internship tips I’ve learned this past summer:
1. Don’t be shy. You probably went through some sort of interview, so the company obviously saw something in you and enjoyed speaking with you. Keep the conversation going. Ask questions. At the end of the day, summarize what you did (be sure to check tip #3), ask if there’s anything else you can help with. Remember to stay professional, but match the level of your supervisor/coworkers. If they crack a casual joke, laugh. If they tell a story, react or compare with a story of your own. Don’t be that stereotypical silent intern. Be someone they will miss having around the office.
2. Don’t dismiss the “grunt-work.” I know that for most interns, work isn’t always the most riveting, time-pressured, exciting project we’d hoped for. But it is work that needs to be completed, and the company depends on it. While research, compiling lists, social media, answering phones, or even coffee runs seem so mundane, think about how the company would function if they skipped that step (if we skipped the coffee step, we would all be zombies. duh.).
3. Go above and beyond. Exciting or boring, treat all projects the same. That means go above and beyond for everything. Make sure you’re doing the best possible job on the task at hand. For research, annotate your research to make it easier for the reader. For social media, use Iconosquare or another app to keep track of engagement and followers, and report back with results. Find creative ways to produce excellent work and leave a *small* taste of you in that work. You don’t want your voice all over that work, but you want your company to know that you are consistent and valuable.
4. Keep tabs on your projects. At the end of the day, draft an email that summarizes what you worked on, how you achieved the goal, goals for next time, and something you learned. It’s up to you if you want to send this to your boss (maybe not every day, but on a day you’re very proud of). Regardless, it is a great habit to get into because self-reflection keeps you mindful and will jog your memory next time you go add to your resume.
5. Network! I can’t stress how important this is. I built excellent connections at my internships by generating common ground with my coworkers and supervisors. Make yourself memorable through reliable work and friendly office demeanor. Always be approachable, eager, and ready to take on more. But at the same time, suck your internship dry. Go to lunch with your supervisors or coworkers, ask for career advice, tell them what your plans are after this internship.
6. Enjoy the summer. If you have an internship, chances are that you’re in college. As college students, our summers are limited. Savor every moment and make sure you still have time to enjoy classic summer activities. Even just enjoy the weather by stepping out during your lunch breaks! Last year, I made the mistake of working every single day that I was not at my internship. I just went with the motions and before I knew it, summer was over. This year, I still work outside of my internship, but I don’t work weekends. So although summer is still flying by, I have enjoyed beach days, weekend trips, zip lining, and countless memories with friends. I know this can be tricky, but the easiest way to do this is follow this rule: weekends are weekends.