It’s Week 7 of Spring Term – whether it is classes, vacations, volunteer hours or work, I hope everyone has plans for summer! If you have the opportunity to complete an internship over the summer you might want to read on.
To optimize internship experience we need to show our interest by doing research on the company, being prepared and following some tips:
· Set Personal Goals. You will find that some internships are very structured, but others are not, so spending some time before you start the internship setting goals that you want to accomplish can be a step for organization. Make sure your goals are realistic and attainable in your internship.
It may be deciding on what area within marketing that you want to specialize, or learning new skills, or building your network. Whatever your goals, you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment once you achieve them.
· Have Regular Meetings with your Supervisor(s). You may get a supervisor who never schedules meetings with you or travels quite a bit, so you have to make sure to have regular meetings where you can share experiences and lessons learned — both good and bad — as well as give progress reports. Hint: While you want to keep your supervisor aware of your accomplishments, remember to also be a good listener and learn as much as you can during these meetings.
· Tackle all Tasks with Enthusiasm and a Positive Attitude. In just about every company, the new hire/intern is going to have to “pay his or her dues.” You will undoubtedly be given some grunt/ tedious work to do, such as making photocopies, but the key is to complete all your work assignments with the same level of enthusiasm and professionalism.
I am learning in my practicum that I should consider working extra hours (beyond the required number for the internship) not only to show my work ethic but to also take full benefit of the learning opportunity.
· Avoid Negativity. The quickest way to ruin a good internship is being negative. So, avoid complaining, being rude, disrespecting coworkers, arriving late, leaving early, being closed-minded, missing deadlines, wearing improper attire, acting unprofessionally, appearing inflexible, and taking part in office politics.
Hint: A common mistake among interns and new hires is treating secretaries and clerks as being beneath them — avoid this behavior at all costs.
· Never Reject a Chance to Learn More About the Company/Industry. Take every opportunity presented to you to attend company or industry meetings, conferences, and events; participate in training workshops; and read all company materials. Hint: Meetings may appear (and actually be) boring to you, but they can often offer a good chance to increase your knowledge, network, and build relationships.
· Get as Much Exposure as Possible. Some of the best internships rotate you among departments and supervisors, but if yours doesn’t, don’t let that stop you from tackling new tasks, meeting people outside your department, and attending company social events. The more you are exposed to new ideas and new people, the more you’ll learn.
· Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions. Always remember that an internship is a learning experience for you. While the employer expects to get a certain level of work from you, you are not expected to know everything. Seek advice and raise questions whenever you encounter something that is not familiar to you. Be open-minded about new ideas and procedures — remember that you don’t know everything and that your professors didn’t teach you everything.
· Take Initiative. Employers love employees who dive into tackling tough problems and who think “outside the box” in finding solutions. Just make sure you work with your supervisor(s) so you don’t overstep your authority — and make sure you share successes with him/her.
Hint: There is a fine line between taking initiative and being perceived as a “know-it-all,” and for interns especially, it is best to err on the side of caution.
· Find a Mentor. A mentor is someone at a higher level in the organization that looks out for you and makes sure you are learning what you need to know and accomplishing what you need to do. A mentor can also shield you from office politics and be a good sounding board for you to discuss ideas, ask questions, etc. Hint: Your supervisor could be your mentor, but it could also be another person within the organization.
· Network, Network, Network. One of the key tools of job-hunting is utilizing your network to find your next career step, whether that is another internship or a job upon graduation. Build professional relationships with your supervisor(s) and other managers in the organization. These people are also a good source for getting other job-hunting advice and tips from their years of experience.
Hint: Even if you have a bad experience in an internship, never burn your bridges because you never know when it could come back and hurt you. Always leave on good terms.
· Leave with Tangible Accomplishments. One of your goals with any internship is leaving it with some tangible results – both for your resume and your career portfolio. Maybe you developed a brochure, computerized an inventory system, organized a sales conference, met with clients, tracked industry trends, etc. Keeping a journal daily or weekly can help you see the progression or tasks you found joy completing. Plus you can refer to it in the future when you revise your resume to include your internship experience.
· Enjoy Yourself. Most internships are great experiences, so make sure you have some fun while you’re working and learning. Don’t be so tense that you are perceived as something you’re not.
Career Services encourages you to use BeaverJobNet to find internships or jobs you are looking for to gain experience in you field of interest. If you do not find what you are looking for, definitely keep your mind open to trying different areas because there is a good chance those skills learned can translate over to your field. The important aspect is that you are putting yourself out there, exploring and developing professional skills.
Internships can be very rewarding and offer a glimpse into exciting fields. Others may also be filled with what you may see as monotonous and unexciting tasks. Stay focused on your goals and you’ll enjoy your experience while getting some on-the-job skills. You’ll never get rich off of an internship but ultimately the contacts you make will aid in your eventual career search.
Resources: Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. http://www.quintcareers.com/internship_success.html
Posted by Marisol Cardoza, Career Services Assistant