Securing an internship at a company of your choice takes a lot of hard work and planning. There is virtually no difference between getting hired as an intern as opposed to a full time employee as far as the hiring process is concerned. So, when you earn the position, you need to make the most out of it. Here is a list of 11 ways you can get the most out of your internship and leave a stellar impression on your boss.
Set tangible goals
Not all companies have a well-defined internship program. It is not uncommon to be hired for an internship where the goals are not well documented. This doesn’t mean that you will not learn anything during the internship or the company is not good. However, this does make it difficult for you and your boss to truly judge your performance. If you find that your new employer does not have set goals documented it is a good idea to sit with him/her to know what is expected out of you. By setting specific goals with your boss, you’ll gain structure and meaning for your internship while avoiding confusion.
Here are some points may want to discuss with your employer:
- The specific outcomes your boss requires from the project
- The specific areas or projects your employer needs help with
- How you can seek help & guidance during your time there
- Where to find resources and answers on your own when possible
- How your employer will deliver feedback on your performance
- How to communicate about official deadlines, delays and other project related updates
During your time in office, keep your eyes and ears open. Observe your colleagues when they present at meetings, talk to others, send out emails. You can learn a lot by watching them. This will help you understand the norms of the office and avoid faux pas.
Make new connections
This is the best time to start networking. If you haven’t already got an active Linkedin account, this would be the time to sign up for one. Network in office with your fellow colleagues, these are the people who will become your professional contacts and possible mentors. Connect with them virtually on LinkedIn (including your boss) share relevant content on your page to help your new colleagues get an insight into you. Also, your new designation will help you connect with a bunch of people working for companies similar to yours. So, don’t miss out on connecting with them too.
Not sure how to network over LinkedIn? Well, here is a great video by Professor Heather Austin that gives you a step-by-step guide.
Alternatively, you can also refer to this LinkedIn Guide published by Fatima Aboudrar
Identify a mentor
A mentor is someone who can guide you through your internship and help you network and come across other learning opportunities. This person will not always be your boss. Your immediate boss might or might not have the time to mentor you but if you talk to enough people around the office you will be able to identify a suitable mentor. Your mentor will show you the way but not hand hold you. You can trust him for an honest feedback and for information that will help you complete your tasks.
Asking someone to be your mentor might not be the easiest thing to do. Once you have identified the person you think can mentor you, tell him/her, “I am eager to learn and make the most of this opportunity. Will it be possible for you to mentor me during my time here?”
Select someone you admire and has the skills or traits you wish to develop. Not everyone has the time or patience to mentor, so if the person declines, it is ok. You can consider asking them if they have recommendations for another mentor.
If you want to read up more about finding the right mentor, read this article by Jeff Goins on ‘How to find a mentor in 10 not so easy steps.’
Go the extra mile
This one is not just for interns but for all of us. Don’t just finish tasks, go the extra mile. See what else can be done or if there is other ways you can contribute.
Whenever a task is assigned or a certain deadline is shared follow through, every single time. If you won’t be able to meet the deadline or you see the task being delayed for any reason, communicate that with your boss. Explain why the delay has taken place in the first place and how you will prioritize the task.
Over time, by successfully completing your assigned tasks and by proactively involving yourself in activities, you will steadily gain a reputation for being dependable.
Volunteer every time
If there is any project that could use an extra hand don’t hesitate to volunteer. Internship programs are rarely that intense that you can’t spare time for a little extra. Collaborating with your colleagues on projects will help you learn vital skills and give you the perfect opportunity to network. During your internship, seek out opportunities to practice collaboration. Here are some examples of how to go about that
Ask Questions & be curious
Your first couple of days and weeks may include on-boarding sessions and training. Take advantage of any training time offered to ask questions and learn new skills. If there isn’t any formal training, find new sources of information on your own. This is a rare opportunity to understand how an organization works inside and out. It is up to you to make the most of your internship so make sure you put in as many hours as you can learning and understanding.
Document Projects & Communicate
Whether you are working with a team or solo it is critical that you document your project and build a road map right at the onset of the task. This will help you understand all the moving pieces. What information you might need, if you would require any assistance from your colleagues so on and so forth.
By doing this exercise you will be able to plan better and avoid surprises. This will also help you reach out to resources well in advance, giving them adequate time to plan their schedule.
If you are holding a meeting, clearly define the agenda and share it with other members upfront. If you are attending a meeting without an agenda ask the organizer if you need to prepare something beforehand. There is nothing worse than being unprepared for a meeting or having members join in to a meeting unaware of what is expected out of them.
Keep a journal to track experience
Over the course of your internship, make a habit of writing in a journal so you can recall ideas, learnings and accomplishments.
You’ll want to keep track of the details of your accomplishments, especially any metrics and numbers that can make your success tangible. Whether daily or weekly, these notes will be especially useful when you are updating your resume.
Internships just like full-time jobs can get stressful. You will be learning new skills in a new environment at a place where everyone seems self-sufficient. Sometimes, it may get a bit daunting and self-doubt can creep in.
Here are few ways to remain positive
- While documenting your journal focus on both the highs and the lows.
- Talk to your colleagues, whenever you have the free time. Ask them about their internship experience.
- Stay healthy
- Don’t over analyse
- Seek regular feedback
Take ownership of mistakes
No one expects you to be perfect from Day 1. You will make mistakes and it is ok to do so. In fact, it is part of the learning curve. The important thing is to admit to it and take responsibility. Take ownership, communicate with the concerned people and look for solutions. This will help you stand out and be recognized.
Not every internship will result in a job offer right away. If the company and work you’ve done are of interest to you, it’s a good practice to stay in touch so that when an opportunity does open up, you will be top of mind.
You may want to send regular updates to the people you worked with closely. For example, if you’re working on a school or personal project related to your internship, you could send a note with the details. You can also invite your former colleagues to coffee. This is a great way to share your ambitions, learn what’s new with them and ask questions.
Ready to take up an internship opportunity? Browse through our Internship Portal to check out all the opportunity available in your area. ECA has over 500 companies listed with it and has placed more than 7500 students. Let the search begin!