Interning is no easy job. So we compiled a list of some simple rules to help you get the most out of your internship.
1. Be Sure You Can Afford It:
Taking an unpaid internship can be a difficult decision, especially if you don’t have the financial backing of a family, spouse or a big, fat savings account. You need to be sure you can afford to intern. Yes, there are some paid internships, but those are very often few and far between, especially in a competitive market like advertising.
An internship provides exposure to the work and the field; you are not being called in to run the business.
2. Find the Right Internship For You:
Figure out where you want to work and what you want to get out of an internship. Be prepared. Compile a list of questions to ask in the interview, like what sort of hours you’re going to be expected to work, what a typical day would be, and what responsibilities you will have. Go in having done research on the company, their work, and their clients.
3. Set Goals Early On:
Forbes recently did an article on interning, and their first piece of advice was to voice your expectations and goals in the interview. Once you’ve accepted a position with the company, write down your goals. What do you want to learn? What do you want to accomplish? Some internships are very structured. Others, not so much. Having set goals, even personal ones, can help you stay focused.
4. Aim for Tangible Accomplishments:
Keep track of your tasks and experiences. You’ll want to be sure to list your accomplishments from an internship on your resume and LinkedIn page.
5. Request Feedback:
Meet regularly with your supervisor and team. Jenness Murray, Program Head, BCIT Marketing Communications Program says, “The people around you are full of knowledge and are generally happy to help. Ask how you are doing, how you can improve and advice about your career. Soak up as much learning as you can to help you grow.”
6. Make Friends and Influence People:
Network. Make contacts. Inside the organization, in industry associations, with suppliers, media contacts …everyone!
7. Be Positive:
Nobody likes a Debbie Downer. Internships are about paying dues. You might not be invited to meetings. You might be spending long hours at the photocopier. You might even have to go get coffee for people. BCIT’s Murray says, “An internship provides exposure to the work and the field; you are not being called in to run the business. You may be required to perform menial tasks like filing, photocopying or even making a pot of coffee. Remember there are menial tasks included in all jobs. Do them with a smile on your face and you’ll make a great impression.”
Nothing to do? Have you asked everyone if they need help and you’re left twiddling your thumbs? Don’t go surf Facebook. Start researching the industry, the competition, and the clients. The more informed you are, the more trust you will build with your employer.
Plus, note taking will make you look organized and prepared, and can be invaluable for referencing when the internship is over.
9. Be Social:
If your internship is limited to one department or team, try reaching out to other departments. Understanding what everyone does in an organization can help you understand better how you, and your department fit in to the bigger picture. Make friends with folks in other departments. Chat them up at company social events, or join company teams like softball, volleyball, etc.
10. Ask Questions:
You’re not expected to know everything. By asking questions, you show an interest in what’s going on. Always ask before doing – and never stop learning.
11. Seek Out a Mentor:
Your mentor doesn’t need to be limited to within the organization. Look to industry associations if there are no mentorship opportunities inside the company. And don’t be afraid to speak to higher-up executives in the company and ask how they got started. Just remember to ask at an appropriate time – and keep it short!
Never underestimate the impact of a hand-written thank you note.
12. Take Notes:
Janness Murray reminds interns to “Carry a pen and notepaper with you everywhere, even when you think you are only going to poke your head into an office with a quick question or hello. Information and instructions can be given at any point throughout the day. If you rely on your memory, you will inevitably forget details. Plus, note taking will make you look organized and prepared, and can be invaluable for referencing when the internship is over.”
13. If You Don’t Get a Job, Get a Reference:
An internship does not guarantee that you will get a job. A few weeks before your internship is up, meet with your coordinator or mentor and ask for feedback. Let them know that your internship will be ending soon and you’d like to talk about how things went. If no job offer is made, ask if they’ll provide you with a reference.
14. Thank You:
Never underestimate the impact of a hand-written thank you note. After your internship is up, send a thank-you note to the people you worked with, thanking them for their time and everything they taught you.