One thing all students should consider before starting their summer internship is to think about what it means to be a successful intern. Getting an internship is just the beginning, and it isn’t the most important part of the internship process.
Be Ready to Help
Sure it may have been tough finding an internship and getting an offer, but the truth is that the value of doing an internship is based mainly on how you decide to handle the opportunity based on what you have to offer. The burden is on you to make the internship successful and to perhaps even turn your internship into a full-time job. It’s not about the company telling you what to do; it’s about you showing your value through your own initiative, motivation, and personal and professional skill set.
College students often provide companies with know-how and technological knowledge that some of their most respected and long-term employees lack. To become even more valuable to your company, be willing to teach co-workers some little tricks of the trade when it comes to using technology that they may not know about. Perhaps you can offer to help create professional presentations or have some new insight for better marketing the company’s product.
Perhaps you can help the company become more established online through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube or other social media outlets.
Read Industry Literature and Trade Magazines
Before your internship starts you should take time to research the industry and find out more about the company. In this way, you go into the opportunity with some understanding of what you may experience and what you can expect. It may also help to give you ideas on how you can help the company make changes or be more competitive. This research will go a long way to having the company view you as a professional rather than a summer intern.
Impressing your supervisor from the get-go will set you up for more interesting and varied projects since you will be seen as a valuable member of the team from the very beginning. Read press releases about the company as well as its competitors.
Review the Company’s Website
Take time to review and learn about the company, its products, and its services. Read the bios on the employees who currently work there. Check out their LinkedIn profiles so that when you begin your internship, you’ll feel that you already know your supervisors and co-workers.
Be prepared on your first day to go around and meet people and introduce yourself. Taking the initiative to meet your co-workers will help set a good tone for your ability to establish personal and professional relationships.
Know That You Don't Know That Much
Don't go into the experience feeling that you know more about the industry or business than the people who have been in the trenches for years. Be willing to take guidance. Watch for places where you may be able to offer assistance or lend a hand. Volunteer and don't turn down a project—even if it may seem like filling time from your perspective. Always remember the internship is an opportunity that the company did not have to offer.
Get Yourself an Internship Mentor
Finding a good mentor can be enormously helpful to you during your internship. Not only will you learn the tricks of the trade quicker, but you will also learn about what goes on behind the scenes and have a better understanding of office politics.
If you find someone within the company that you respect and that you seem to hit it off with, why not ask them if they would be willing to mentor you during your time at the company. They will probably feel honored and you will be glad that you have someone that you feel you can trust and that you feel has your best interest at heart.