You have landed a college internship, a summer opportunity that will be over before you know it. The best thing about this job is that it will give you much needed experience and put you in a better position to launch your career after you finish college. With such a great chance to test the waters there are some things you need to do to help make a college internship work for you.
1. Manage your expectations. An internship will open doors, right? It can. But, it may not be everything that you expected it to be. Especially if you are handed a lot of grunt assignments such as filing, fielding phone calls, retrieving mail and making copies. Consider that what you learn may not always be directly relevant to what you want to do after college. Even so, the simple tasks need to be handled and you are being observed for how well you do them.
2. Prove yourself. Are you happy with what you are doing or will you complain? An internship will include varied tasks and the way that you handle your assignments will reveal much about your work ethic. You are not expected to know everything, but you are expected to put in much effort. Look for ways to shine in all you do and to take on additional assignments as these become available to you.
3. Understand outcomes. For every work that you do, there are outcomes that can be measured. You may not understand how what you do effects your team, but it will have an impact nonetheless. Ask for feedback from others including your supervisor. If you find a better way to do a task, run it past your supervisor first for approval.
4. Learn from others. Each person you meet on the job has more experience than you. Perhaps not in all areas, but in something that is not entirely familiar to you. This may include a software program, customer service, data analysis or bookkeeping. Seize upon every chance to learn something new — you will become a better worker for it.
5. Gauge the political landscape. Everyone gets along with each other on the job, right? Do not believe it. Human nature is such that some people work well with each others, while others prefer to work alone. You will quickly pick up office or team politics and may find yourself dismayed. Attempt to stay out of the politics, but do observe how it all plays out. In theory, there should be no “pet” employees and management should be objective. Reality, however, is usually entirely something different.
6. Dress the part. Whatever dress code is in operation, you must follow that. In an office setting, you will usually be required to wear dress clothes. Follow the code and you will make a good impression. Men should be clean shaven, women should go easy on the make up. Cover up the tattoos and remove the body piercings. The job is not about you — make your personal statement on your own time.
7. Ask for help. Every opportunity to learn something new can benefit you. There will be many times when you simply do not know what to do or may have questions on how to perform your work. Ask for help. Listen for answers. Apply what you learn. Chalk everything up to experience. In other words, be a sponge and absorb knowledge.
When your internship is done, do not consider your relationship with the people you meet as having ended. You may never work for that company again, but the months spent on the job should have given you ample time to connect with people including those that can offer a job referral or reference in the future. Finally, show your gratitude to your employer by offering your thanks for the opportunity.
See Also — Unique Ways to Find Internships