10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship

It’s pretty obvious that internships have become a crucial part of marketing ourselves, gaining hands-on experience in the real world, and (in my opinion, most importantly) networking. However, simply “doing” an internship isn’t good enough; that isn’t what is important. It’s crucial that we absorb as much as possible by being granted the experience, and in turn, give the internship everything you have. These things in combination will certainly give you the best experience possible, which is, after all, the ultimate goal. If you currently have an internship, or if you plan to apply for some this upcoming year, here are my tips on how to make the most (and get the most out of) your internships:

  1. Get to know everyone you can. Whether you work at a small or large company with a tiny or gigantic team, there are still plenty of people you can interact with and learn from. Whenever I think about what I loved most at my internships, the people I worked with and was surrounded by always comes to mind. It’s so important to get to know your coworkers on a deeper level than knowing when they take their lunch or what their job title is. By building these relationships, you will have people you care about at work who will also care about you. They’ll be much more willing to help you and teach you as much as possible. These relationships can even last beyond your internship. Don’t be a drone at work-half of the fun is learning from and interacting with those around you.
  2. Expand yourself beyond the 9-5. I’m not talking about working on projects after hours. While that may need to happen, what I’m referring to is expanding your availability and acknowledging that you will only be at your internship for a short amount of time. Because of this, come in on your day off if something unique is going on or there is an opportunity to learn. Drive to the corporate office if you’ve been offered the opportunity to sit in on a meeting. Realize that the more time you put into your internship to learn, the more you will get out of it.
  3. Learn as much as possible about the company/organization with which you are interning. What’s the point of working somewhere if you don’t know much about it? How can you fully understand what you are doing if you don’t know your company’s goals or customer base? Learning whatever you can will make you that much more invested and committed. Why does the logo look that way? When was the organization founded, and for what purpose? You’ll even see that the more you know, the more confident you will be in your ability to do your job and represent your company.
  4. Share your ideas with the team. No one likes a silent intern. While we are primarily in our internships to learn, it is vital to show that you are willing to work with your team to develop new ideas. Your coworkers would be thrilled to hear your perspective, as opinions from an originally “outside” party provide them with a different angle. Not to mention the fact that you are young, in college, and have a unique point of view. Never hesitate to let people know what you think.
  5. Volunteer to assist with various tasks. Does someone look like they could use an extra hand with a project? Do you see people working on something you are knowledgeable about or have an interest in? Speak up and volunteer to help. The worst that could happen is that they say no, and how often do people really turn down help? This will show that you are capable of taking initiative and working well on a team, both vital characteristics of a successful and hard-worker, which you definitely want to be!
  6. Don’t complain about something or point out a problem without some sort of solution. If something is going wrong and needs to be addressed immediately, by all means, point it out. What I’m referring to is more of the type of instances where you don’t think a certain filing system or way of doing things isn’t the most organized or efficient. In this case, develop some sort of solution to offer when you do address the issue with someone. Your innovation won’t go unnoticed.
  7. Keep a work calendar for tasks and reminders. Keep this separate from any other calendar or agendas you have. This way, you can see what work-specific obligations you have each week and can continue to add to it as needed. This is a great way to stay organized at work, and I’ll bet you won’t miss a single meeting or deadline!
  8. Get enough sleep at night. Coming in to work early and/or yawning throughout the entire day will make for an unpleasant and long work day. Your brain will be sluggish and will hold you back from being the best intern possible. Follow up a good night’s sleep with a healthy breakfast and enough water to hydrated throughout the day. You’ll be able to see the benefits both at work and off the job.
  9. Make the most of your free time/time off. Get whatever tasks you need to complete done when you are not at work. Do what you like when you’re off. This way, you’ll appreciate your time both at work and home from work much more, and you won’t be angry about going in. This time is also a prime time to get that much needed sleep.
  10. Keep in touch. Don’t lose contact with any of your coworkers or bosses. These people helped you throughout your internship and truly care about you and your future. Thank them as much as you can, and maintain a relationship with them. Your internship would have been completely different and possibly nonexistent without them, so make sure you remain in contact with them.
Think about what you can do so that when you leave your internship, you are as satisfied as possible, you are glad you did your internship and you feel as though you have gained a wealth of experience. Don’t waste a perfectly good opportunity that is right before your eyes.

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