Interning throughout college is an awesome way to gain professional experience outside of the classroom. There’s a lot to learn! Unfortunately, internships are a temporary position, and they often feel like they fly by in the blink of an eye. Whether this is your first go at this type of hands-on learning experience, or you’re a seasoned vet, these proactive tips will help you make the most of the time you do have and maximize your internship experience.
1. Come up with goals.
You probably already have an idea about some of the skills you’re hoping to learn at your internship. Some of these things will be taught right off the bat, but there will definitely be skills that you need to seek the opportunity to learn. It’s a good idea to list out some goals you’re hoping to accomplish during your time as an intern. That way, you’ll know exactly what kinds of opportunities you’ll need to keep an eye out for. We recommend searching job boards and reading through the job descriptions for your dream roles. See what kinds of hard and soft skills those positions call for, then use that to come up with your goals. It also helps to look at your manager and colleagues at your current internship. What kinds of things are they doing that you hope to learn more about?
2. Take the small tasks seriously.
The work you do as an intern isn’t always going to be glamorous. Sometimes you’ll get stuck with smaller, tedious tasks that you’ll be tempted to shrug off—like making copies, sorting mail, or updating spreadsheets. Even so, a strong work ethic always shines through. Sort that mail like the company depends on it because that kind of attitude leads to some stellar recommendations from your boss once you’re hunting for a future role!
3. Speak up and share your ideas.
Intern intimidation is real. The thought of sharing any input or ideas might leave you thinking, “Now way! I’m just an intern.” But, being just an intern doesn’t make your ideas invalid. Your employer is more likely to appreciate your effort to get involved rather than be dismayed by it. Plus, showing you have some great ideas can open doors to more projects and learning opportunities.
4. Seek ways to help out.
So, you finished all of your projects and you’re tempted to just sit back and scroll through Instagram until you’re fed more work. Is it worth it? Probably not. Internships are only so long, so it’ll seriously benefit you if you scope out new projects straight away and get more experience under your belt.
5. Get to know your team.
Internships are about more than just learning skills—they’re about making connections. Not only can a good relationship with your team help you succeed in your current role, but it can help you out in the future as well. These co-workers can become references, mentors, or even just a friend that can connect you with other helpful names in the industry.
6. Ask questions.
We can’t stress this enough—internships are a learning experience. If you’re confused about a project, ask about it! If you need a second opinion on your work, ask for it! If you’re just genuinely curious about how something works—you guessed it—ask! Asking questions is one of the best ways to get more professional knowledge under your belt.
7. Get feedback.
How can you improve if you don’t know what you need to improve on? It’s tough putting yourself in a position to receive constructive criticism, but it’s totally necessary. Feedback won’t always be negative, either. Maybe you’ll find out that you’re a total rockstar at a certain area of your job!