A whopping 60% of students who complete an internship go on to receive job offers in their senior year, and research shows that those who complete an internship are absolutely more likely to secure a job after school than those who don't.
Needless to say, getting an internship is something you should work towards in the very least, but getting the most out of this kind of work experience is a whole different animal.
By making the most of an internship you increase your chances of growing a professional network, cultivating relationships, getting recommendations, and improving your skill set. In short, a successful internship can transform you from student into competitive jobseeker.
Don't waste your time; create a springboard to launch your career with the following seven internship tips.
7 Internship Tips
- Select an Internship That Means Something to You
- Be Punctual and Reliable
- Take Initiative
- Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions
- Build and Maintain Relationships
- Get Involved in Company Culture
- Think of the Future
"In my case, an internship was a mandatory part of my degree. All I saw it as was an obligation for graduation, not a professional opportunity," says Alexis G. "I ended up choosing an internship in an unrelated field that didn't mean much to me. I got my course credit for it, but nothing else. If I could do it again, I'd look for a position I care about in a relevant field."
Your internship may be part of your degree program; however, it is also much more than that. This is one of the most important internship tips to follow: Think of your role as the first experience you will list on your resume. You want this experience to be relevant and meaningful, so be intentional about the jobs you pursue.
If you can help it, never be late to work. In fact, get there early. The same goes for meetings and deadlines. Show up when expected and give notice if you are running behind. Because most internships are temporary, they leave little flexibility for sick days. Use your sick days with caution and, if possible, try to limit them unless they are absolutely necessary. Prove you are reliable and that your colleagues can trust you to be there for them.
"One thing I regret in my internship is not taking on more responsibility. I could have seized more chances to prove myself to my boss and colleagues," says Bryan H. "Instead, I just kind of coasted by doing the bare minimum. Although I did my job, I know I could have been a better asset to the team. Taking extra initiative also would have made a great addition to my resume."
While it is absolutely important to keep up with your normal, daily duties, it is also vital to make the most of your time. If you see a project you can take on, volunteer to do it. This is especially true of leadership roles and tasks no one else wants to do. Of all the internship tips, this is one that will make your colleagues appreciate and remember you.
Eager to come across as informed, many interns think they need to know everything on day one. Rest assured that no one expects you to have all the answers right away, but they do expect you to do the preliminary research. If you have a question, start by consulting the company's website or handbooks for information. If you still cannot find the answer in the available resources,
"Although I had decent relationships with my manager and colleagues while at work, I never considered their future value," says Jacqueline B. "After the internship was over, I lost touch with most of my co-workers. I wish I had maintained those relationships and gotten formal references. I think they could have helped me when it came time to apply for my first real job."
This is another one of the most important internship tips to follow: Always make an effort to make meaningful connections. Don't just make them with other interns; develop rapport with colleagues throughout your team and larger organization. Not only can this help you in your day-to-day job, but also in your professional network. At the end of your internship, offer to keep in touch and feel free to ask for references or LinkedIn recommendations.
"At my internship, the team would get together twice a month outside of office hours, whether they were going to a baseball game, playing kickball, or having a brainstorm session at a local coffee house. Out of the three months I was there, I only participated in one of these events," recalls Shawn M.
"Even though I did my day-to-day job, I think my lack of extracurricular engagement made it look like all I cared about was a paycheck."
Besides experience, one of the most important things recruiters looks for when vetting candidates is a fit with the company's culture. If you want to prove you mesh well, prepare to roll up your sleeves and get involved in those team-builder activities. Distinct from other internship tips, following this suggestion demonstrates your investment in the broader company.
"The internship was one of the final components of my bachelor's degree. At that point, graduation was the only thing on my mind. I wasn't thinking about getting a full-time position," admits Carla F. "I definitely could have leveraged my internship as a stepping stone and looked for jobs while I was there. I didn't, though, and ended up with a gap in my resume."
Even if your role is mandatory, follow our internship tips and think of it as your first professional endeavor. Outside of office hours, consider where this capsule experience could take you. Pursue leads you get from your networks and think of the next steps while still at your internship. Don't wait until it's over.
Want a Head Start on Your Internship Resume?
What's another one of the most valuable internship tips? You need a great resume and cover letter to get the gig. If you have limited or no previous experience, don't worry. MyPerfectCoverLetter's personalized cover letter builder can walk you through the process and ensure you include all the important details.