Last week, we explored choosing an internship that’s right for you. Now let’s skip forward to your first day of your three-month (or one-semester or however long) gig.
The most important thing to remember about any internship is that you’re there to learn. You might go in with an idea of what you’ll be learning, but keep an open mind. Some more tips to get the most out of your time:
- Observe. The professional world is very different from the academic environment, so you’ll encounter a lot of unfamiliar situations. There is a lot you can learn just by watching those around you, not just how they do their jobs and the tasks you’re interested in, but also the general professional atmosphere of the company and industry. Pay close attention to how people communicate and work together to help you build your soft skills, too. Make a mental note of what you like or don’t like about the workplace (Is it collaborative or competitive? Supportive or toxic?).
- Ask questions. Remember, you’re there to learn, so if you have a question, speak up and ask! It could be about something technical or it could be about something more strategic. This is also a great way to build a mentor-mentee relationship with your supervisor and find out more about other perspectives. If you’re shy in a group, maybe schedule some time with your boss to ask questions in a one-on-one setting.
- Volunteer. One of the best ways to learn is to do, so get in there! Volunteer for every opportunity you possibly can, from working events to tagging along to meetings (even if it’s just to run the PowerPoint). This is by far the best way to get exposure to the wider industry that you’re interested in and try out new experiences.
- Act like a regular employee. Even if they’re not paying you, you should take your position seriously and treat it like a job. Be punctual, reliable, and professional. Get to know those in your department or desired industry (starting with your boss). When it’s in the budget, companies have gone to great lengths to find a full-time position to keep a great intern. Even if you don’t stay with that company, you want to foster a good working relationship for future recommendations and networking.
Originally posted on Memoranda.