Internships are a great way to test the waters of the working world, get credits for university or even launch a career. Even though you’re only hired for a few months, it’s your time to shine and make sure you become the intern of all interns – and we know how: here’s our guide to how to ace an internship in 12 steps.
1. Lunch, lunch and lunch
Lunch is the perfect time to learn more about your colleagues and meet new people – aka socialize over sandwiches and salads: Maybe a department needs help with a project, someone is looking for a member for their after-work soccer team or a co-worker is just as much into Game of Thrones as you are – there’s a lot of things you can find out during a lunch break.
2. Be nice
Be nice and polite to everyone, work your small talk, and stay away from the gossip. You will never know who in a company will be able to help you with a project or even a job, and the more you are liked, the easier it is to ask for help, contacts or recommendations – priceless tools for every career.
3. Don’t be a slob
As an intern, you’re neither a servant nor a cleaner (unless that’s what you were hired for), but do your part to make the office an inhabitable place: Fill up the printer with paper, clean your dishes, and keep your desk neat and tidy. In short: behave as if your mom were watching.
4. Get a lot of feedback
You don’t have to schedule weekly meetings about your performance, but don’t wait until the last day either. Feedback will help you learn, improve, and get the most out of your internship. Even if it’s not always pleasant, being able to handle possible criticism like a boss is an incredibly valuable skill.
5. Ask Away
Be curious and ask questions to learn the ins and outs of the business – you only have a few months to soak up as much information as you can. However, make sure you pace your Q&A sessions so others can get their work done. Most people are also more than happy to set time aside for some “brain picking” – a great opportunity to have some one-on-one time and get all your questions answered over a cup of coffee.
6. Don’t sweat the little things
Being an intern sometimes means that you have to do things that might not be all that much fun. However, if you do them well, better things will probably await you. See it as a learning process and do not complain – especially not to co-workers or supervisors. Oftentimes, you have to prove yourself and complete little test tasks before moving on to bigger and better things.
7. Be proactive
You think the company needs a Twitter account or you found a way to save money by using a different paper supplier? Supervisors generally love people who show initiative and come up with good ideas that save or make money, so it could be the perfect time to show off your talents. Don’t flood them with random ideas though – just focus on the best one and blow them away with your knowledge (and maybe some numbers and a plan).
8. Don’t be overeager
Despite I just said, don’t be overeager. Don’t ask for constant approval and praise, don’t just talk to people because you have an ulterior networking motive, and do not ask for a permanent position after the first week. You also shouldn’t criticize everything or try to immediately change existing processes – unless that’s what you were hired for.
9. Be organized and on time
Don’t be late to work or meetings. Arriving a few minutes early is a great and easy way to make a good impression. Always be prepared and don’t miss deadlines – if you know that you won’t be able to deliver on time, ask for an extension. Being organized and keeping track of time are important skills for career success.
10. Look professional
Try to learn about the dress code before you start your internship – and then stick to it. Even if there are no guidelines, just watch what other people are wearing and dress accordingly. Your outfit will reflect your attitude and the more professional it comes across, the better.
11. Use the downtime
There might be times when things are slow, so take the opportunity to ask for work or suggest a project of your own if you can think of something useful. Make sure you always have your supervisor’s approval to pass time doing things that aren’t part of the job – being open and honest is better than hiding the downtime and risking getting caught snapchatting with friends.
12. And don’t forget to socialize
Sometimes, departments organize weekend activities, such as volunteering, excursions or sports. Sign up, as it’s a great way to make friends and get to know your colleagues. If you had to relocate for your internship, your co-workers are the ultimate source to find the best gym, café, and party.