Starting a new internship can be scary with all the new people, expectations, and responsibilities. But interning is a great way to gain experience, work on your leadership skills, and get a leg up on the competition, whether it’s for college admission or the postgrad job search. To get the most out of your internship, you’ll want to make a great impression. Here’s what you should do to ensure you have a successful internship experience.
The first day of your internship
Before you start your internship, you should research the company and find out what clothes are appropriate; some offices want employees to dress to impress, while others are more casual, so don’t be afraid to email your supervisor with questions. Then on the first day, find your boss and formally introduce yourself if you haven’t met in person already. Showing this initiative is a great way to impress your internship leaders and establish a good reputation early on in your workplace. Also remember that you’re there to learn new things; you’re not going to know everything, so asking questions shows your advisors that you care about doing your job correctly. Don’t be afraid of what others think of you; instead, focus on being the best you can be and aim for constant improvement.
Related: 7 Things to Do on the First Day of a New Job
Throughout your internship
It’s important to remember that an internship will look good on your résumé, but most of all, it’s good for you too. Be willing to accept assignments and learn from them, no matter how mundane they may seem. Also continue to ask questions and reflect to improve your future performance. After you’ve been in your position for a couple of weeks, you’ll want to ask your supervisor for feedback. Again, the purpose of an internship is to learn, so asking for feedback on your work and areas in which you can improve will give you a new perspective from someone more experienced in your field of interest. This can also help you determine if this field and type of work are right for you.
After receiving feedback, this is a chance to revise and implicate that advice to improve your skills. Show your advisors that you’re retaining the information they’re giving you. Practicing hard and soft skills in the workplace is helpful when you’re in college or trade school and need to employ those skills in an educational field. It’s also important to make friends and connections with your colleagues. Today’s society is all about networking—the more people you know, the more people you can meet and the more opportunities you can find. Making a good impression with a large group of people can connect you to many useful networks in your future, so don’t neglect this important part of the internship process.
After your internship
For high school interns, colleges want to know about your internship experience. They also want to know about you, your work ethic, and your personality. They can find all this out through letters of recommendation. Asking a trusted person—such as a mentor from the place where you interned—if they would be willing to write you a letter in the future is an amazing way to put yourself in a good light with colleges while highlighting your strengths and proving your accountability. This is also important for college interns who’ll be looking for jobs after they graduate.
Finally, use your internship experience to your advantage! You did a hard thing, and you learned from that thing, so use it. Apply the skills you learned to your daily life and write about your experience. Tell colleges or interviewers how the experience affected you and why this field is your passion.
Related: 5 Strategies to Turn Your Internship Into Your First Job
While internships are educational experiences that typically remain professional, the most important thing is to be yourself. Colleges and employers want to know who you are. Show them the real you, including your quirks, talents, and weaknesses. Most of all, express your passion while showing advisors that you care and are willing to work hard for your dreams. With confidence, respect, and dignity, you’ll succeed on the first day of your internship and beyond.
Wondering what you might do as an intern? Learn all about it with our article on Types of College Internships and What They're Really Like.