Be a Good Intern Every Step of the Way

09-2014-interns-01By Marcie Waters

For many students, an internship is their first look into the career world. This can be exciting, but also a little nerve wracking, especially if you’re trying to get your foot in the door at a certain company or are hoping to score a great reference for future job applications. Having an internship experience on your resume is positive, as it demonstrates to potential employers that you take initiative in your career. However, having a successful internship experience in which you learned new skills, beefed up your portfolio, made networking connections, and received helpful feedback from supervisors is even better. Here are some tips that can help you be a fantastic intern, while getting the most out of your internship.

First Day Tips:
Arrive early and dress appropriately. While first impressions may not be everything, they are definitely important. Arriving early and looking nice will show that you are prepared and professional.
Be friendly and introduce yourself. Smile and introduce yourself to everyone you meet. Know your position and department title, so that you can tell them your specific place in the company. Everyone you’re working with has the potential to be an important networking connection.
Ask questions and be an active learner. If you don’t know or understand things about the company or the workplace, ask. It’s better to get simple questions answered now, so you’re not asking about things you should already know later on. Be an active learner by doing some research on your own. Google information about the company and its work to better understand the environment you’ll be working in.

During the Internship:
Be proactive. Try to avoid sitting idly; you’re not helping the company or learning anything by doing that. Ask for more projects or create one for yourself (Just make sure it is worthwhile).
Listen carefully and take notes. You can really learn a lot from supervisors and coworkers. Take notes, especially during meetings. This way, you can reference them to avoid asking silly questions later. They can also be useful when you are in a job interview and need to provide examples of your prior work experiences.
Follow texting and social media policies. It can be tempting to tweet about your cool new internship or Instagram a picture of your very own desk, but if a supervisor was to see something posted during work hours, it will make it look like you are not doing your job.

Final Days:
Send thank you notes. Thanking your supervisors for their help and guidance during your internship experience will leave a good impression of you in their minds.
Request feedback. Getting feedback from supervisors and collaborators can be a great way to discover your strengths and weaknesses. Not only does this allow you a catalyst for personal improvement, but you also have a starting point for answering future job interview questions.
Get contact info. Ask your supervisor for their contact info. They can be a great resource while navigating future career searches. Make sure to also ask your supervisor if they are willing to be a reference for you in the future.