One of the most important experiences of your entire college career will be your internship.
Lots of majors require one, and you may even be lucky enough to do multiple internships by the time you’ve graduated.
Your internship is a great learning experience, and in the best case scenario it could even land you a job.
So – here are some tips of making the most out of it.
Establish Learning Objectives
Before you start your internship, sit down and create a list of learning objectives for yourself. Think about the specific things you want to learn from your internship. Doing this ahead of time will help you stay focused on getting the most benefits from your time at the company and recognize opportunities to meet your goals. After you start, refer to it often and add to it when you can.
Volunteer and Stay Busy
If you see or hear of something that needs to be done, volunteer to do it. Don’t always wait to be asked. Doing this will show that you have good initiative and enthusiasm for the job.
You should always try to stay busy, so always ask if there is something you can do when you’ve finished your set tasks. If no one needs your help at the moment, stay busy by reading industry material or magazines that might be lying around the office, or read other company literature.
Ask for Feedback
Your manager probably won’t hesitate to tell you if you’ve really screwed up, but they might not also give you feedback otherwise.
Always ask for feedback from the people you’re working with and after you’ve completed projects. Their feedback should help you identify your strengths and the areas where you need the most improvement.
Take It Seriously
Just because you’re not getting paid doesn’t mean your internship isn’t as serious as a real job. Always treat the job and everything you do as if you’re getting paid for it.
Take your work seriously, and act like you would if you were a real employee of the company. Arrive early, stay late, and consider asking to work additional hours beyond your credit requirements if you can handle it.
While you’re at the internship to help out and do your job, you’re really there to learn. Don’t hesitate to ask questions whenever you’re unsure of something or if there’s something you want to understand better.
If you have in-depth questions, ask your boss or another employee to meet with you outside of work so you can ask them.
That’s a great way to get a mentor, too.
Keep Track of It
In the same way that you’re keeping a list of the things you want to learn, also keep a list of the things you have learned and the things you’ve accomplished. As an intern, you’ll hopefully experience a wide variety of tasks or projects. Writing them all down will help you summarize those experiences, perhaps to future potential employers or your professors at school.
If you’ve done tangible work like writing or designing, obtain copies of everything to potentially add to your portfolio.
Mark Weatherford is a high school English teacher and writer who loves to give advice that can help students survive their education. He often gives tips on anything from course scheduling to the best grammar checkers around.
Photo Credit: colleencoleman