Finals are over and you’ve successfully completed another year of college! It’s finally time to trade in your all-nighters, exams, and sleepovers at the library for sunny days at the beach and Netflix marathons. But if you want to make the most of your summer, you’ve considered applying for an internship or are eagerly counting down the days until you start. Summer internships are a great way to give you an edge in the workforce after college and to sharpen your mind while you’re taking a break from classes. Consider this your summer internship guide, full of tips and tricks to help you stand out, learn about your potential career, and gain valuable experience. This is your guide to being not just the summer intern, but being the next candidate for the job! Apply these 10 internship tips and tricks, and you’re guaranteed to make a powerful impression.
1. Do your homework
First things first, do your homework. No, not your academic homework assignments - do a bit of research. You know, a simple Google search. Take a closer look at the company that you will soon be working with. Explore the website and actually read the “About Us” page. This can give you a sneak peek of what’s in store when you start on your first day. Surf the web to gain a clearer picture of who the company is, what they do, and what they stand for. Don’t be afraid to go a little deep. See if you can find samples of their work, articles, or even customer and employee reviews. You will really stand out from the others if you know a little more than just the address and hours of operation.
2. Be professional
I can’t stress this enough: you must dress for success. This isn’t your college 101 class where you can stroll in 15 minutes late in sweatpants with a half-eaten snack. These are the building blocks to your potential career or job, so you need to dress like you plan to stay longer than your internship hours. Show that you can fit in with your employer and that you are ready to hit the ground running. There are endless books and articles about the do’s and don’ts of professional dress, so ensure that your wardrobe meets the expectations. Here are a few easy tips. Ladies, it’s always great to smell fragrant and to have your best makeup, but make sure that it is subtle. Just a small spritz of perfume and neutral makeup to ensure that you look beautiful but you aren’t overwhelming those around you. Gentleman, keep your face clean and brush those pearly whites! If you look your best, you’ll perform at your best.
3. Ask questions
As an intern, you aren’t expected to have all of the answers, so don’t hesitate to ask questions. If you have a handful before you start the day, write them down! Employers are more than willing to share their wealth of knowledge if you have the courage to admit that you don’t know a thing or two. Throw the idea that there are “stupid questions” out of the window and soak up all of the information that you can.
4. Be enthusiastic
Another simple trick is to show your excitement! Begin each day excited and eager to learn. Allow your internship and those who will be working with you to help you grow. Don’t be afraid to share your interests, goals, and where you’d like this opportunity to take you in the future. Attend the mixer after work, roll up your sleeves for the weekend volunteer workshop, and play with the office dog. Being excited to help and to immerse yourself into your new environment will become contagious and can lead to additional opportunities and conversations.
5. Start creating your network
It's not always about what you know, but who you know. The relationships that you create can take you a long way. You don’t have to wait until after graduation to start building a network. Take advantage of working alongside your new colleagues and really get to know who they are and what they do. Ask them how they started their careers, what they studied in school, and seek their advice. And of course, share things about yourself; what makes you unique and different, and what your goals are. Don’t underestimate the connections they have. You just never know where a simple chit-chat will take you.
6. Treat everyday like an interview
Keep in mind that this can be more than just a summer internship. This could be the beginning of your first big kid job. So don’t waste it! Treat each day as if it were an interview. Apply some of these principles every chance you get. Dress your best, ask those burning questions, and be confident, as if you were being interviewed for the job. Overall, you want to be yourself. Let them see who you are while wowing them with your potential.
7. Hit them with your best shot
This next tip goes hand in hand with your interview mindset. You really want to turn this internship into a full-time gig? Come in swinging! Go above and beyond in your work. You want to provide value to the company, so become an asset to your team. Be proactive and do more than what is asked of you. Get to know how the company works so you have an idea of how you can be the most helpful. For example, if you are a part of facilitating a company meeting, ensure that the room is equipped with materials and is ready for collaborative work. The pencils are low? Take a second to refill the bin. Think ahead and share your ideas! If you are able to show your colleagues that you are ready for anything, you will gain their trust and respect.
8. Set personal goals
Setting goals is not only an internship hack, but a life hack! Always be willing to grow and expand your learning. Jot down a list of goals and expectations of who you’d like to be after your experience. Whether your goal is to manage your time more wisely, or to take a stab at the press release you’ve dreamt of writing, start bringing your goals to life. Keep track of these goals as you go along as well and create more! Sharing these goals with your colleagues makes you more accountable and will show them how much effort you are putting into the experience. Start documenting your vision.
9. Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback may seem like a pretty daunting task at first. Having others review your performance is always a little scary. But remember this: what do you have to lose? Take advantage of your intern status and ask how you’re doing! Ask those who are working with you what you are doing well and what are a few areas where you can improve. Not only does this reflect that you are taking initiative, but that you are want to be the best professional that you can be. This is a very valuable characteristic, and you want to show that you are willing to take on challenges.
10. Keep in touch
If you plan to conclude your internship as the next semester approaches, don’t forget to keep in touch! Remember those relationships you worked so hard at making and the network that you created? Don’t let them wither away. Request connections on LinkedIn and send an email or two to those who helped you along the way. Share how the experience helped you grow, how you learned about yourself and the industry, and how you’d like to continue learning. If you were able to make a powerful impression, you will be amazed by where these referrals and connections will take you.
Landing a summer internship can be the catalyst to your college career and will build the foundation to your future endeavors. Allow your opportunity to show you more about yourself, the industry, and your likes and dislikes about the real world that awaits you after graduation. Just apply these internship tips and tricks so you can be more than just the intern, you can be the newest employee at the company.