Increasingly, college students and new graduates are using their summer breaks to gain some “real-world” experience that will help them transition from the academic to the professional world. Internships help you identify your strengths, interests, fit (whether an industry or a job profile aligns to your vision or your strengths) and areas where you can develop more skills. They serve as an invaluable opportunity not only to provide you a flavor of work but also to potentially set you on the route to full-time employment.
But, as an intern, you typically get only a few months to leverage these opportunities. How can you ensure that you’re maximizing what you give and what you take away from your internship? Below are some guiding principles I followed to make my internship successful:
This is the simplest way to quickly establish your credibility to an entirely new set of people. Start by being punctual – get to meetings early and adhere to deadlines. If the meeting is scheduled to start at 10:00 am, attempt to be at the venue by 9:50 am. Nothing demands credibility as strongly as your taking complete ownership of the projects you’re assigned to and delivering the results in a timely manner. Even though your projects will often have a lot of dependencies, try your best to follow timelines, and do the task to the best of your ability.
Everything at an internship is new—the work, the people and the culture. In view of this, asking questions about the business, about the projects and clearing doubts is essential to doing your tasks well. It also indicates that you’re thorough. Moreover, asking good, insightful questions may also spark crucial conversations that colleagues may have missed in the usual flow of their work. Sparking innovations through your questions would make your inputs invaluable to the organization.
Go Above and Beyond
Of course, there will be some expectations set for you just when you begin your internship. While you work on meeting those, don’t hesitate to look beyond them. Attempt to exceed not only the expectations set for you, but also those of your own by challenging yourself. You can do this by attempting to finish a task well, and before the deadline. It will pave the way for you to acquire more opportunities to establish yourself in the organization.
At the start of your internship, you may be given only two projects with no set timeline. Maybe you can set a reasonable timeline for yourself and deliver on it to the best of your ability. Be relentless when it comes to delivering excellence and seeking more work. This will help your stakeholders see you as a reliable team member who takes initiative: qualities prospective employers seek.
You have arrived ready for a team meeting 10 to 15 minutes early. Use this opportunity to create a connection with your colleagues. Ask them how their weekend was, or about the cool accessory you saw on their desk the other day. Try taking lunch breaks with your colleagues to build a relationship. Observe the great relationship-builders in your firm and learn from them. Offer to help your colleagues wherever you can. Forming relationships within your team and throughout the organization will make you memorable and allow you to create a network that could be useful in the future.