Internships are a fantastic way for students to explore career interests and gain work experience. Research finds that employers are more interested in hiring graduates who have interned. Many homeschoolers begin exploring careers through internships during the high school years. Major-related internships are also available to college students. Students may find their internships through family connections or on-campus career placement centers.
Simply being placed into an internship is no guarantee of success. Interns need to approach their job with the right attitude and strategy to make the most of the experience.
Treat it like a real job
Your internship will most likely be unpaid, but that doesn’t mean you can be a slacker. Successful interns will treat their work just as seriously as if it were paid employment. That means showing up on time, dressing appropriately, and behaving professionally. Companies and organizations count on interns to be reliable and complete their work. If you hope to get a positive recommendation from your internship supervisor, you should expect to work hard.
Understand nobody starts at the top
Most interns get grunt work to start. If you see yourself in Congress someday, it may seem beneath you as an intern to run copies and go on coffee runs. It s important to keep in mind that just because these are your tasks the first week, doesn’t mean they will be your only tasks during your whole internship. If you hope for more responsibility, prove yourself capable of the easy work first.
Listen and observe
Some of the most important learning opportunities in an internship come from listening carefully and observing. You can learn a great deal just from watching what is happening around you.
Offer to take on special projects
Some employers have little time to think of tasks for interns. If you identify a need of the organization, ask if you can take it on as a special project. This shows you have initiative. This can also be good material for future job interviews. One common job interview question asks applicants to discuss a time they encountered a challenge and how they dealt with it.
No whining, no complaining, no gossip, no bad attitude, period. Promote a positive attitude in the workplace every single day. One of the reasons why employers like interns is because they tend to be young and enthusiastic. While it may be allowable for the boss to be grumpy, the same rules do not apply for interns.
Cultivate your network
Before your internship, set up a LinkedIn account and begin to build your professional network. Offer to work at conference or planning events. Seek out feedback and advice from your internship mentors. At the end of the internship, be sure to write personal thank-you notes and take the time to update your resume.