A great internship is what every student hopes for when they are launching their career. Internships provide opportunities for learning, growth and networking within a career field. Not only can they solidify a young person’s reputation as a professional, internships are also platforms to catapult careers. Even if the internship experience reveals that a particular field or job isn’t so appealing, the work and connections made become a part of one’s professional portfolio. Most students, however, spend most of their efforts and energy trying to secure an internship, but little effort on maximizing the experience. Keep reading for 5 tips to make an internship pay off big time.
5 Tips to Make the Most of an Internship
1) Do the Research– While looking for companies with internship opportunities, students should do a little research on staff and board members, roles and responsibilities, and client base. Linked In is a great starting point for executive bios and work history. It is also good to learn about new initiatives the company has launched, what their mission and vision statements are, as well as their target sectors/clients. A well equipped intern is already ten steps ahead of competition.
2) Work on a Project– Bypass being the “errand runner” and prove your value by taking initiative. At the start of an internship, it is wise for students to know their strengths and offer them to help serve the company. Ask to become a part of a project or team, in addition to the other duties of the internship.
Not sure how to approach it? Try these: “I have a lot of skills in graphic design. Are there opportunities for me to contribute to your promotional materials?” “I’m an excellent writer. May I share my idea for a customer appreciation card?”
3) Offer Solutions – No one likes the “know-it-all,” but there is always room to offer insight on a company issue or problem they are interested in solving. The fact is, a new person with a fresh perspective can offer a different lens on an old issue. If the work climate allows, interns should share their well thought out suggestions in meetings or with direct supervisors. In the case of shyness or timidness, a well crafted email is a great way to share ideas and ensure that credit goes to the deserving party.
4) Inquire about Progress – The biggest mistake an intern can make is to assume they are doing a good job. It is important for growth and professionalism to check in sometimes and simply ask, “How am I doing?” Posing this question opens the line of communication and helps supervisors provide tips and praise for jobs well done. If one feels that s/he aren’t doing very well, discuss how a situation poses challenges and ask for help, guidance or support.
5) Stay in Touch – At the end of an internship, students should take away more than lessons and memories. Connections are important to every person’s career. The best way for students to grow their business relationships is to create a Linked In profile and request other professionals to join their network. Another way to keep close ties is to send periodic emails with new information about the progress being made in one’s career and life.