Despite all the controversy that has surrounded internships recently, they are still an invaluable way to get great work experience. You might be lucky and land a paid internship or if not, an internship with an impressive program. Weigh your options and see if getting a summer internship works for you. If you decide it’s something you want to do, here are some ways to impress them while you're there and who knows – maybe even get a job out of it!
Dress professionally… ALL. THE. TIME. Not just for the interview or your first day, I’m talking about every day of your internship. Why? You never know who you’ll meet, who you’ll bump into, or what situation you’ll be put in. Now that doesn’t mean overdress, try to match the dress code of the workplace. The key is looking polished and put together because whether you realize it or not, as soon as you get the internship, you represent the brand, company or business you’re interning for. Even if it’s “business casual” don’t take the casual part so literally. Always try and look your best every day that you're there.
Attend work events. Networking is everything. Ask anyone and most people will tell you they got their job because of a friend or through somebody they knew. So when you get invited to work events, go! Not only does it give you the chance to interact with your colleagues outside the workplace, but it gives you the chance to meet other people in the same industry. Take advantage of the situation and talk to people, you never know who you’ll meet – maybe a future employer.
Be friends with your colleagues. Just because you’re “the intern” doesn’t mean you have to keep to yourself. Get to know the people you work with and the role they play at that particular company. If there’s someone who has your dream job, ask them if you can help them on any upcoming projects or if they could mentor you. The more you interact with team, the less they’ll see you as an intern and more as a colleague. Even once you finish your internship, maintain those relationships – they could play a vital role in getting your next job.
Stay busy. You should always have a steady workflow at your internship. If there’s ever a moment you don’t have anything to do, make that be your opportunity to ask someone if they need help with anything. People notice when you step up and take initiative.
Be flexible. So yes, there are internships out there that will make you prepare the morning coffee and do silly errands that have nothing to do with your interests. However if that same internship also gives you great opportunities to work on big projects, go to events and be a part of a talented team, then take that into consideration. But if all you’re doing is refilling people’s coffee cups, it’s time to talk to your internship supervisor or perhaps leave the internship altogether.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember that an internship is a learning experience. When they hire you on, they don’t expect you to be an expert in the field. So don’t feel shy about asking questions. A lot of workplaces have office lingo and terminology you might not understand, so don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.