The Perfect Intern

An intern working with their mentor
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Employers typically seek candidates who possess previous experience in the field, but you don't need to wait until you are fully employed to gain valuable skills. With three summers and eight college semesters available during your college career, it is quite possible to complete two or three internships before graduating. For those who are set on a particular career, completing one or two internships with different companies or organizations can solidify a vocation. For those who have no idea in what direction they want to go, exposure to different industries might help the decision.

Since one of the main goals of completing an internship is securing a job, it’s important to know how to shine in the workplace. First impressions are crucial, but so is maintaining high professional standards through consistent hard work, a strong commitment, and avoiding getting caught up in office gossip. Here are some tips for a successful internship.

Consider Job Shadowing

Job shadowing is an activity college students can engage in to find out more about specific careers. Job shadowing entails observing another professional on the job, and shadowing assignments usually lasts for one day to several weeks.

Start Your Search Early

Finding the perfect internship is not always easy. There is strong competition for summer internships. One of the best ways to make sure that you get a summer internship in your field is to begin looking early. Opportunities in finance, journalism, and government often have application deadlines as early as October. By preparing your resume and cover letter in advance, you will be ready to send your application as internships are posted.

Research Your Industry and the Company

Before you attend an interview, learn as much about the company as you can by visiting the company’s website and its LinkedIn page. Also research the company's employees. By using the Advanced button on the top right of your LinkedIn page, you may even find alumni from your college that you can connect with before interviewing or starting your internship or job.

Be Commited

By showing up for work on-time and not bolting out the door at the end of the day, you are showing your commitment to doing a good job rather than just punching a time card. Enjoy your job, and find better ways to complete tasks. This will get you notice by supervisors.

Since internships are an excellent way to train and evaluate potential future employees, it’s important that you ask for feedback to gauge your performance. The information garnered will help you to make improvements. As an intern, you are expected to ask questions. By doing so, you are showing your employer that you are motivated and ready to take initiative and apply that knowledge.

Be a Team Player

Although employers want to see hard work and a strong work ethic, they also require people who get along with their supervisors and coworkers. It is during lunch and other more social experiences where you can begin developing relationships that make for a happier and more enjoyable workplace. When hiring, managers look for individuals who they consider a good fit aswell as those who possess the knowledge and skills to do the job.

Build Strong Professional Relationships and Find Yourself a Mentor

Building a strong professional network is key to getting ahead in your career. Someone you previously worked may at some point provide support and information on your potential next job. Find yourself a mentor who can support you in moving ahead in your current or future job. Finding a good mentor can make your first years on the job less stressful and allows you to tap into the wisdom and experience of someone already successful in the field.

Avoid Office Politics and Gossip

Avoid gossiping either in or outside of the office. Aligning yourself with a select group of co-workers sets you up for potential problems with other members of the group. As a mature employee who wants to get ahead, remain unbiased and out of the politics.

Keep in Touch Once Your Internship Is Over

The first thing an intern should do once their internship is over is to send a thank you note to their supervisor and anyone else who played a key role in making their internship a success. Keeping in touch with these contacts once you return to college is also a great idea to help maintain important contacts and to keep abreast of future openings.

The Internship Success Guide provides additional information on things you can do to ensure that your internship is successful.