You’ve applied to summer internships, been accepted and now the fun begins! Taking on a summer internship can be both intimidating and exciting. The rush of knowing you’ll be working in your field can be overshadowed by worries about how you will fare and what your bosses, coworkers, and fellow interns will think of you. While scary, it is totally normal to feel this anxiety. If you’re looking to make an impact, here are 7 ways to make a great impression at your summer internship.
1. Share Your Goals
An internship shouldn’t just be about the paycheck or the school credit. Instead, use it as a stepping-stone for your post-college life. To do so, you need to know what you want out of your position. Whether it is acquiring new skills, learning more about a specific business or company, or establishing yourself in a career before graduating, let your manager or supervisor know exactly what it is you want to accomplish. This will help them put you on the right track and make your stay more productive.
2. Carry a Notepad
Though you can take notes on your computer or just commit little tidbits of wisdom to memory, nothing says “I’m prepared” better than an old-fashioned notepad and pencil. Bring them with you to staff meetings, carry them to lunches with coworkers or business associates, and keep them handy when given a new assignment. This will help you stay focused on your work and give you a single place to collect everything you learn.
3. Request Performance Evaluations
For most summer internships, you will only get one or two opportunities for performance evaluations, typically occurring near the end of your program. This gives you little-to-no time to correct your mistakes or to seek out help to improve. Instead of waiting for an evaluation to come to you, request that you receive more feedback from your supervisor or manager, as time allows.
4. Seek Out a Mentor
If feedback is what you crave, a mentor is a great place to start. This can be anyone in the company—an established coworker, a senior executive, or even another intern who has been working at the position for a longer period. Ask politely, preferably in a thoughtful and well-written letter or email, and establish early on what you hope to get from the relationship (i.e. someone to talk to, help writing a resume, further insight in your position, etc.).
5. Dress for Success
Your new job is a great place to work out your professional style. Stock your closet with outfits that emulates (or even slightly improves on) what your coworkers wear. For example, if your manager wears slacks and a button down, add a tie to a similar look. Alternatively, if your office is casual, come wearing a dressier skirt and blouse instead of jeans and tennis shoes.
6. Be On Time—Every Time
Whether you are paid in education, money, or college credit (or all three!), you cannot afford to be late to work. At the beginning of your internship, address any potential schedule conflicts, school requirements, or vacation requests so everyone is on the same page regarding where you’re going to be. Should an emergency strike, make sure you know your workplace’s call-in policies.
7. Leave on Good Terms
Some internships, like jobs, can end with one or both parties unhappy. When this happens, it can be tempting to pick a fight, throw your professionalism out the door, or walk out when the going gets tough. Be the bigger person and let your internship supervisor handle any major issue that may arise. Wrap up your work as a professional, no matter the circumstances. Even a bad boss will appreciate your candor.
Your internship should be used to build a routine that will last you from placement to career. To start it off right, make strong, professional choices: dress appropriately, show interest, be punctual, and go the extra mile with your boss. This will help you make and leave a great impression, which can open up doors later on down the road.
Have you begun your summer internship yet? What have you been learning that you would like to share? Let us know!
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