Congrats, you’re hired! You’re now an intern at your dream company after weeks of cover letters, interviews and follow-up emails. It’s time to finally relax and take things easy, right? Well, not so fast. Finding an internship is the strongest way to get your foot in the door at your dream company, but it’s not guaranteed to keep you there. Showing your amazing talent and work ethic is what’s going to help you stand out as a great candidate for full-time employment. Here are five simple ways that you can set yourself apart as a stellar intern: 1. Be present. Listening intently and being present in the moment cannot be stressed enough. A meeting is never the time to be mentally planning that day’s happy hour, nor is it a time to type out your next batch of emails. Instead, focus on what’s going on around you, what’s being said and how your co-workers interact. Not only will you learn more about the company than what you could ever glean from research, but your attention and listening skills will definitely be noticed.
2. Keep a list of your weekly goals, accomplishments and lessons learned. Internships are a time to learn and grow as a professional, and documenting that experience can help you see just how far you’ve come during your internship. A great way to use this list is to share it with your direct manager once per week. They can use the list as a tool to identify where you’re strong and where you could improve, then provide constructive feedback on how to do so. They should be giving you this kind of feedback anyway, but you get bonus points for making their job easy!
3. Be eager and excited to do your job. A common trap that interns fall into goes something like this: “I’m an intern; I do intern work and my intern work isn’t actually that important to the company, so I shouldn’t try that hard.” That kind of attitude is a great way to get yourself sent out the door. Bosses are impressed when you approach every task with an open mind and a positive attitude. Don’t treat it like “intern work”; own your work and make it represent the best of you. If you want to go a step farther, volunteer for tasks that are outside of your assignment. You’ll be seen as helpful, as well as gain experience in something new.
4. Get to know your co-workers at all levels. Sure, going to happy hour with your fellow interns and grabbing lunch with your direct manager are a start. But if you really want to make yourself known in your internship, you have to make connections. Try setting up coffee dates with people outside of your team or department to learn more about their positions. Most people would be more than willing to chat with you about their experience with the company, and hearing different points of view can help you decide if it’s the right fit for you. At the same time, your co-workers are learning a little more about you, helping them to remember your name and personality.
5. Share candid feedback about your internship experience. Every company wants to attract the most talented interns, which is why most take great care to craft incredible internship experiences. In order to better the experience year after year, they will ask their interns for recommendations on how to improve the program. Even if it was awesome, this is not a time to say, “Oh, it’s perfect! There’s nothing I would change.” Try to provide real feedback, either on a change that can be made or a way that something good could be even better. Doing so will show that you paid attention, truly evaluated your experience and wanted to see the company succeed in the future.
Following these five tips will help get you noticed for all the right reasons in your next internship. Putting in a little extra effort can go a long way!
By Bethany Corne, President