Summer is here, which means your Instagram timeline will mostly consist of your peers on their fabulous vacations, in the bambi pose on a beach, or eating some kind of #trendy food item. Not you! If you Instagrammed your summer, your feed would probably consist of an office space, a sad desk salad, and a long commute, because you, my friend, are interning. Kudos for caring enough about your post-graduate life to devote your entire summer into working for next to nothing, but one thing’s for sure: your internship experience is super valuable.
If you’re interning at your dream company, it’s important to make the best impression possible so that your employer can keep you in mind for future permanent positions. Even if you’re not, connections are everything. Doing the best job you can guarantees a good reference from your supervisor, but just as there are important things you should do, there are just as many things you shouldn’t. Keep these do’s and don't's in mind.
DO: Keep busy.
If you’re done with your assignments, ask for more. Don’t be afraid to ask other staff members besides your direct supervisor if they need help with anything, either. The more people you network with, the better. The worst thing you can do is sit around doing nothing.
DON’T: Be shy.
If you’re interning at a company that you hope to work for post-graduation, be as friendly and open as possible. Say hello and introduce yourself! You want them to remember you.
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DO: Give 100% of yourself.
Listen to instructions thoroughly the first time, so your supervisor doesn’t have to repeat themselves over and over. Work overtime once in awhile if you’re asked to, get coffee for the staff as needed, and make as many photocopies as you’re asked. No task is too small, and if you do things with a positive attitude, it’ll show.
DON’T: Be afraid to ask questions.
If there’s something you don’t understand, ask! That’s what your supervisor is there for. Try not to ask the same thing over and over again, though. Again, no one likes explaining themselves repeatedly. You landed this internship, so you’re perfectly competent and cut out for the job! Believe in yourself and pay attention. You’ve got this.
DO: Bring your lunch as often as possible.
Many internships are only for college credit, which means they don’t pay. If you’re not making a steady income throughout the summer, buying lunch and coffee every morning can really put a dent in your bank account. Try to save as much as possible before your internship starts so that you’re prepared, but try not to spend too much.
DON’T: Bring heavily scented food.
Especially if the microwave is in a communal area. Don’t stink up the office, that’s just etiquette.
DO: Absorb as much as possible.
Ask as many questions as you can. Show genuine interest in the job (especially if you want to get hired afterward), take notes, and don’t be afraid to ask a staff member for lunch or coffee so you can pick their brains. They can tell when you really care, and that’s so important in leaving a good, lasting impression.
DON’T: Overstep boundaries.
No matter how young and cool your supervisor is, you have to remember that at the end of the day, he/she is your supervisor. Happy hours here and there (upon their invitation, only) are okay, but don’t drink on the job, don’t ask too many personal questions, and show them the same respect you would show an older superior.
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DO: Keep in touch.
Once your internship is over, it’s absolutely crucial for you to keep in touch if you want to be considered for employment in the future. Email your supervisor once in awhile, meet up for coffee if you’re both free, and keep a relationship going. Again: you want them to remember you! And don’t forget to send thank you cards to everyone who you worked with at the end of your internship. Small gestures go a long way.
DON’T: Be annoying.
Keep in touch in moderation. Your supervisor doesn’t need a weekly update on your life, but she’ll love to hear about your accomplishments every couple of months, and a Christmas card never hurt, either. Don’t press them if you don’t hear back right away. They’re busy people, and while following up is key, it’s not necessary to do so more than once or twice if it’s not a pressing issue.
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