Congratulations! All of your preparation and hard work has finally paid off and you landed the internship opportunity you were pursuing. Now comes the hard part.
Getting a foot in the door is a crucial first step in any professional situation. However, remembering to adequately prepare for and execute your plans during the internship itself is an oft neglected and underemphasized part of the internship process. Before your internship begins, you should spend some time identifying your personal objectives while also developing a plan to meet (and hopefully exceed) the expectations of your employer. To assist you in this process we’ve pulled together some general guidelines and advice to keep in mind before you show up on your first day of work.
- Do your homework. More than likely, you did some research and preparation for your interview, and you should plan to do the same well in advance of your first day of work. Familiarize yourself with the company, its leadership and its operations. You could also consider trying to master any industry-specific terminology so that you can hit the ground running on your first day. Last, you may wish to set up Google alerts to keep abreast of recent press involving your company.
- Treat the internship like a real job. Regardless of whether or not you think this is the company or the industry you want a career with, you should come prepared to work hard and give your best effort every day. More than likely you will need to rely on your employer to give you a positive review if and when an opportunity becomes available.
- Network and socialize (professionally). One of the most useful things you can do during your internship is to build relationships with the people you encounter along the way. This extends well beyond your immediate supervisor(s) as you can expand your network exponentially by building bridges with the people you encounter in other parts of the company, or even with other interns. Remember to keep it friendly, but professional.
- Think about adding value. In almost any internship (and in many jobs) there will be tasks that you may perceive as dull or “busy work”. However, just because the task is mundane doesn’t mean its time to cut corners. Use the opportunity to demonstrate your flexibility, positivity, work ethic and attention to detail. If there is downtime between projects, take a moment to put yourself in your supervisor’s position. Analyze your previous work and try to identify some other areas where you might be able to contribute.
- Leave with the tools you need. Before you leave your internship, try to take a moment and reconnect with the people you’ve met. In a respectful and organic way, remind people of your professional goals, and if possible, get contact information so that you can stay in touch. This will keep you front of people’s minds as opportunities become available. You should plan to try and have these conversations prior to your last day of work so that you can leave on a positive note without feeling rushed.
Chris Hart is a Graduate Assistant at Daniels Career Services.
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