Seven tips for a meaningful internship

Internship

You did it! You scored that awesome internship. Your future is blossoming before your very eyes. The time to push outside of your academic comfort zone has arrived. Now it’s time to get some real-world work experience. Internships are great for building your resume, but even more importantly; this will help you discover more about yourself. What are you strengths? Your weaknesses? What kind of employee do you want to be? Your boss may control your job, but you control your career.

Make the absolute most of this opportunity by following these ten tips for a meaningful internship experience.

  1. Be enthusiastic. Show up friendly and eager to learn. This should come natural. If it doesn’t, you may be in the wrong place. Find a new internship. The right internship is like the right relationship; it won’t make you someone you’re not. Be yourself.
  2. Explore as many departments as possible. An internship is a time for exploration. Seek out opportunities to rotate through different departments and be exposed to various assignments. You may think you want to be a human resources manager, but then discover that you really get jazzed over marketing projects. Now is the time for you to find these things out. Even if you are assigned to one area, reach out to others. Invite someone from a different department to have lunch with you or volunteer to assist with a company project that includes several departments. The online marketing internship program at fishbat is doing a great job at rotating interns through different departments before assigning a specialty.
  3. Ask questions. Learn as much as you can. Ask questions about the company, the tasks you are performing, and your work assignments. Your work will be better as a result. The feedback you gain will also help you improve your skills. Skills like writing, communication, and document creation are transferable. You will most likely use these in any career you pursue. Start sharpening them now.
  4. Listen. You are asking good questions. Now be sure to follow through and listen. The power of listening cannot be stressed enough. Display your good listening skills and be open to feedback from your peers and supervisors. You will be valued for showing interest and respected for being attentive. Mistakes are a lot less likely when you listen and understand too.
  5. Be a problem solver. Show your boss how you can analyze a situation and offer a valuable solution. You are sure to stand out as a leader. Leaders solve problems, they don’t just perform tasks. Taking opportunities to become a problem solver and be a leader will be great for your current position. It will also help you grow into your next role.
  6. Build relationships. Who you know can really open doors. We’ve all heard the stories about friends getting job opportunities through people they know. These connections can be valuable to building your career. Seek out networking opportunities. LinkedIn is harnessing the power of professional networking via the internet and is growing at a rapid speed. Create your own LinkedIn profile and connect with your coworkers and friends. Is there a professional organization in your field? Join it. Attend local networking events. The more you do it, the easier it will become and the better you will get at connecting. Building relationships is key to career success.
  7. Say “thank you.” Be sure to show your gratitude. Send a thank you note following your interview. Thank your coworker for their help on an assignment. Thank your boss for the amazing internship opportunity. People’s time and knowledge are valuable. Let them know you appreciate them. Show how thoughtful you are. Gratitude has an extra bonus too. It has been linked to boosts in happiness levels.

Were you ever an intern? What other tips do you have for a meaningful internship experience?

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Internship” image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Written by Larissa Striga

Larissa A. Striga is an Intern with fishbat, an online marketing firm located in Bohemia, NY. She is a student at Suffolk County Community College graduating this January and a social media enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter @LarissaStriga.
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