Intern like you mean it.
You’ve landed an internship at a great company. You’re getting school credit, and you know this internship will look impressive on your resume. So you’re done, right?
Just because you have the internship doesn’t mean you intern well. In fact, perhaps worse than leaving a bad impression is leaving no impression at all. Don’t waste a precious opportunity to not only learn important skills, but to build your network. Remember: every relationship you foster is another link in your professional chain.
Here are my 8 intern must-do’s:
1. Dress the part: The more your colleagues can visualize you as part of the team, the easier it will be for you to become part of their team. Dressing in the spirit of the corporate culture is not only professional, but it’s also strategic.
2. Do the research: Stalk LinkedIn to research and memorize the members of the management team; not just their names and titles, but also what they look like. You never want to miss an opportunity to connect with someone important during a casual elevator ride because you didn’t know you were standing next to the CEO!
3. Take it seriously: Don’t call in sick because you’re not in the mood to go to work. Treat your internship like a real job. This is your one chance to make a positive impression. To that end, make sure that you ask for feedback throughout your internship so that you can make any improvements necessary along the way.
4. Learn to self-start: Sometimes internship supervisors don’t live up to their end of the bargain. If your supervisor isn’t great at giving direction, you need to depend on yourself. That means you need to understand your function as it relates to the bigger picture, and think of tasks that will propel your department forward. If you don’t know what you should be doing, ask for a project.
5. Give off positive energy: Don’t be a zombie intern. Be energetic and enthusiastic. Show that you’re happy and grateful to be there. Your energy speaks volumes about your work ethic and how you might be as a full-time employee.
6. Watch your social media: Social media from inside the office is off-limits unless you have cleared it with your internship supervisor. It’s kind of like Vegas, what happens in the office . . .
7. Take advantage of the team: Absorb as much knowledge as you can from the people you are working with. Aim to understand their varied job roles. Set up time with your supervisor to hear about how she got to where she is. Your goal is to understand the scope of the job and how all the pieces come together. You might have joined as an intern in one area, but decide that another is of greater interest. If you don’t have these conversations, you’ll never know.
8. Leave with a purpose: Did you make an impression? How will you be remembered? Will they recommend you? Those are the questions you need to ask yourself before it’s too late.
Aliza Licht is the author of “Leave your Mark,” and a marketing and communications executive in the fashion industry.
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