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6 tips for getting the most out of your internship

Written by Laure Busschot on 15 July 2019 for Tech Graduates

Doing an internship over the summer? Internships may not come with much power or allure, they can be a fantastic way to earn professional experience before you graduate. You can even leverage this experience into a full-time position later on. Here are six tips for getting the most out of your internship.

#1 Create relationships

Think your internship is going to teach you something about marketing, or media, or programming, or startups? Hopefully, but some interns end up doing pointless tasks their entire time on the job. That’s why starting an internship and expecting to learn a ton of new skills will probably leave you feeling disillusioned. But the magic is there staring at you the whole time: internships aren’t about what you’re going to learn, they’re all about who you’re going to meet.

Please, as you go into your internship, focus on nurturing relationships. Say hello to everyone. Shake hands. Swap numbers. Do whatever you need to do to meet new people and form connections. The value of internships is the human relationships you’re going to make. So go forth and learn how to network like a boss.

#2 Be a sponge

If an internship doesn’t explicitly teach you skills, what should you be doing? Our advice is to soak up everything you see and hear. Ask to sit in on meetings and calls. See how people behave and how they talk to each other. Go to every after-hours event you can, even if that means just tagging along when your work buddies go to play squash. Don’t be afraid of being ‘that’ intern who was too bubbly. It’s only by absorbing everything that you’ll get anything of any real value from your internship.

If you are going into an office where everyone is sitting down, look for that one person who looks up and shows a sliver of interest in you. Take the time to get to know them. Listen to what they work on. Hear their opinions. By showing a willingness to learn, you’ll make an impact and you’ll be more likely to be remembered. This can help you land a full-time position later on down the road.

#3 Remember the 3 P’s – Professional, punctual, prepared

Look. All jobs have some menial tasks and internships are no different. Yes, you may well find yourself going for coffee and filing documents for hours on end. But remember: taking your work seriously helps you establish goodwill with employees and can lead to opportunities after you graduate. Whatever you do, always remember the 3 P’s – act professionally at all times, be punctual and ALWAYS be prepared.

Be professional

Dress the part, forge relationships, be polite and act respectfully. Being bubbly is fine but there’s a fine line between being positive and being obnoxious! The goal is to plant seeds and start watering them – they’ll pay dividends in the future.

Be punctual

Yes, going on coffee runs sucks. But slacking off or arriving late will suck even more for your job prospects. The best way to form great relationships is to be punctual and help the company or organization move forward. Whatever you do always do it on time.

 

Be prepared

Find out as much as you can about the company before you start. Write questions in advance that you’d like to ask the people you expect to meet. Find out about the clients they represent or serve and the people in the team. If you’re allowed to sit in on a meeting, turn up prepared.

#4 Take initiative

It shouldn’t take too long to master your intern duties, but don’t stop there. You can’t go into an internship expecting to be spoon-fed new knowledge and skills; it just won’t happen. Once you’ve had time to absorb your surroundings and have begun to form relationships with people, start to look for new work challenges. Ask to help a coworker on their project. Ask someone you meet whether they’re anything you could help them with. Be curious and adopt a proactive mindset – you never know where your curiosity may take you.

#5 Set clear goals

One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of starting an internship is goal setting. If you just turn up and go with the flow, you may wind up feeling insecure and out of the loop. To avoid this, use the first meeting with your supervisor to discuss expectations and set professional goals.

You’ll want to:

  • Ask your supervisor what they expect from you
  • Ask how they’ll measure success
  • Ask them how they’ll give you feedback
  • Tell them what you expect from them

Once you are clear about your roles and responsibilities, you can set your own personal goals. Are you looking to form relationships? Make new connections? Lead to a full-time job opportunity? Whatever you want to accomplish, write it down and go after it.

#6 Find a mentor

Every internship is different. Some companies will let interns freewheel, while others will assign a supervisor for each intern. Wherever you find yourself, try to develop a mentoring relationship with someone who you admire. Most professionals are happy to share their expertise and want to assist interns who are just entering their field. A good mentor will help you prosper and will probably stay in touch long after your internship ends.

Now what?

If you’re on the lookout for a rewarding internship (or student job) where you can demonstrate your skills, you may be interested in the way we do it at Exellys. Our interns don’t spend their days getting coffee – they hit the ground running and start making an impact on day one. And they do this at companies that are a perfect fit based on personality, expectations and ambitions.

6 Tips for getting the most out of your internship - blogpost cover

An Exellys internship or student job will give you on-the-job experience that can help you land your dream job. So, check out our website today and see how we can help you build your dream career!