Congratulations on your first internship! If you’re reading this, you’re probably a young, bright-eyed college student embarking on the journey towards a career, starting with your first internship. Unfortunately, you probably have no idea what to expect and how to behave in this new setting. It’s going to be easy for you to find articles about how to be professional in terms of dress and behavior; that type of advice is a dime a dozen, if we’re being honest. What you’re going to learn here is how to really get your foot in the door and make an impact in your company, no matter the size of your role. This is a no-excuses, real results article and if you pay attention and implement these tips, I can promise you that you’re going to get MUCH more out of your internship and be better off for it.
Know the company culture
The first thing you need to do is get acclimated with your company, inside out. You need to know all about it: the industry, competitors, and all the expectations that the company has for its employees. Don’t wait until your first day to do this either! Do as much research as possible before you step foot in the office. Not only will you set yourself apart by being more prepared than the average intern, you’ll also find that you’re more confident in your abilities from jump because you’ve done preparation to give yourself the best chance at success. What’s more is that when you know the company culture, you understand how to interact with your higher-ups and other employees and you won’t be that annoying, clueless intern who has to learn all the social rules on the go, as well as your own job role. It’s an investment into yourself and your future, and one that will definitely pay off.
Take initiative and exceed expectations
The single most important thing you can do in the workplace to elevate your status, intern or not, is to take initiative in the workplace. Stop waiting for your boss to drop by your office and give you something to do! If you find that you’re running out of tasks, try going around to other people in your office and asking them if there’s anything you can do to help them or free up their time. They’ll be impressed and you’ll be surprised about how this can help build relationships; people tend to be endeared to you when you make yourself of use to them. Don’t worry about how small the task is, just get to work and you’ll find that the same people you’re serving under will start to be on your side. They’ll offer advice or even just simple kindness and understanding, which will come in handy on your more rough days. This is how you build a network within a company. People will remember what you did for them when you didn’t have to do anything and this is a valuable tool for connecting with others in the workplace. When you start to do more than expected, they’ll notice and it all adds up to make you look like a great intern and even a viable job candidate for the future. Don’t sleep on this tip; get to work!
Learn a marketable skill
Now, everyone has heard the internship horror stories of a summer filled with boring tasks or, even worse, a drudgery of hours spent at the office doing nothing. Well I have good news: this is actually an opportunity. If you’re at an internship where you have access to a computer and the internet, you now have dedicated time and resources to be able to pick up a skill that you can use in the future. Everyone has those things that they’re been meaning to do or learn, like a second language or coding. Make sure the skill you choose has some kind of applicable use to the company you’re interning at, but feel free to be creative! Not only will this come off as initiative on your part, but you’ll get more out of the experience if you’re making sure that every hour spent at the office goes towards something productive. Being able to make something out of nothing is an important skill to have, especially if you’re leaning towards being an entrepreneur or working at a startup; very rarely will you have all the resources and all the answers, but you’ll still be expected to produce and this type of mentality is the first step in that direction.
At the end of the day, you’ll have a lot of figuring out to do but with these tips you should feel much more confident as you begin to navigate the workforce. Just remember to keep your wits about you and to contribute in whatever ways you can, as this will always push you in the right direction.