by Sandra Hoyer, Head Editor, INALJ Washington
11 Ways to Rock, and Get the Most Out of, Your Internship
You just heard you got the internship of your dreams and you are not sure what to do next (other than continue the victory dance up and down your living room). Here are some helpful tips on how to make the most out of your internship experience:
- Make a list of your personal goals and objectives before starting your internship. A great way to ensure that you will accomplish everything on your “to do” list is by actually making one. This will give you an excellent roadmap when your internship takes off.
- On your first day, or within the first week, discuss and document with your supervisor their expectations and needs. This document will make it extra clear what is expected of you and will help you avoid any future confusion.
- Never procrastinate. Internships fly by. Never put off meeting up with professional contacts, following up with emails, attending workshops etc. These types of opportunities are often gone in the blink of an eye. Follow through is essential in making a positive impression.
- Follow through is key. Along the same lines of not procrastinating, as an intern your word is your currency. Never say you will do something unless you plan on following through. Supervisors will be more inclined to give you more complex tasks if they feel they can count on you.
- Create an “elevator speech.” What is an “elevator speech,” you ask? An “elevator speech” is a short 2-3 minute blurb about yourself that you can use to introduce yourself should you ever be caught in an elevator with someone who is interested in learning more about you. The “elevator speech” can also be applied to a number of social and networking situations. Practicing the “elevator speech” means knowing what to say when seemingly innocent, but stump-worthy questions come up (“What do you want to do with that degree..?”).
- Dress to impress. The old saying goes, dress for the job you want. It is not necessary to have runway model fashion chops, but always dress appropriately for the workday ahead of you. For example: if you have a meeting with your supervisor it is a nice touch to dress up and wear a suit jacket and tie, sports coat, or blazer (or any other combination of professional dress).
- Expand your social circle. Making friends during an internship is fun and can make it more enjoyable. Just remember that an internship is a time for you to develop professionally and not just socially. Never confine yourself to a clique and try to meet as many people as possible.
- Always spell check! I cannot stress this enough. Your work is important and will be used in a professional capacity. Always ensure that the quality of your work meets, or surpasses, your supervisor’s expectations.
- Prepare for all presentations. Chances are that as an intern you will be asked to present your findings or work deliverables. Being prepared for these presentations will be crucial and will reflect on you professionally. Creating a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation will help you stay on point and also provide a wonderful visual for those attending.
- Write everything you do down as you are doing it. Keeping a list of all the projects, presentations, and activities you were part of will help you immensely down the line when you are trying to incorporate your internship into your resume. Waiting until the end rarely provides a full list of all your accomplishments.
- Lastly, have your supervisor look over your resume before you leave your internship for any helpful tips or edits. Having your supervisor look over your internship resume entry before you leave will give you the chance to get some input on what to add or how to improve it. This will also allow your supervisor to be the most helpful since your work is still fresh in their minds.
Now get out there and kick some internship derrière!