Internship Tips: Stand Up For Yourself, Make Contacts & Have Fun

Posted November 20, 2013 by
Business intern working at the office

Business intern working at the office. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Congratulations! You landed a coveted internship with a company or non-profit organization that has the potential to teach you volumes about the realities of your chosen career. You’re not getting paid very much (pretty close to minimum wage), but you’d rather spend a summer in this relevant workplace than stock shelves or wait on tables. And you’re pretty sure you’ve hit paydirt. After all, you won’t just be learning the ropes of your chosen profession in this place, you’ll also be mingling and forming relationships with potential mentors who can help you find a real job after you graduate.

So everything is coming up roses for you right now. But make sure you stay on this positive track throughout the summer. Here are a few tips that can help you make the most of your opportunity.

Internship Tips for a Fun & Productive Summer

Your internship can help you much farther down the road if you follow these tips:

1.   Know what you want to get out of this experience. And get it. You aren’t being paid enough to take abuse, or to be pushed into a corner to sort file folders day after day. You’re here to learn and gain exposure to multiple aspects of this business, so if that’s what you need, make sure that’s how your experience plays out. Stay in control and speak up.

2.  Be appreciative. Recognize that your employers are doing you a favor by bringing you into the office without the training and skills required to offer much value. So make their lives easier by doing what you can to stay out of the way while you learn and observe. Try not to let your actions, your questions, and your presence cause your employer to lose money or customers.

3.   Make friends. Even on an off-day, try to be an energetic and pleasant presence. Really listen when people are talking to you, and be as helpful as you possibly can (again, without getting in the way). You may not be able to handle real clients just yet, but you can provide coffee and friendly conversation to those who can.

4.   If you can’t make it in, call. Most interns don’t realize what it means to their employers when they simply make an effort to check in. When you don’t show up, people worry, and when they worry, they become distracted and annoyed. Just be there, and when you can’t be there, pick up the phone. Consider this your first foray into the most fundamental aspect of professional behavior.

5.   Demonstrate that you take your projects seriously. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied or criticized, but within limits, show that you care deeply about the outcome of the projects you take on—even the smallest ones.

6.   Dress well. Consider this practice. The way you dress and the rituals you go through on weekday mornings will become pattern, and pattern will become habit, and habit will become life. This summer, practice going the extra mile in the morning and showing up every day in a freshly pressed dress shirt or heels. See how it feels and how well it suits you to iron a shirt at 6:00 am or stride down the street in a pair of taupe stilettos.

At the end of the summer, you’ll put this gig behind you and go back to school. But sooner or later, you’ll be coming into a workplace like this all year round. Now is your chance to observe this environment—and this industry—with clear eyes and find out if it’s right for you.

LiveCareer (www.livecareer.com), home to America’s #1 Resume Builder, connects job seekers of all experience levels and career categories to all the tools, resources and insider tips needed to win the job. Find LiveCareer on Youtube and visit LiveCareer’s Google+ page for even more tips and advice on all things career and resume-related.

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