How to make the most out of your internships heading into the school year was originally published on College Recruiter.
We all know that working towards your first degree can be a challenge in and of itself. Good grades aren’t enough to land you that first job after graduation. Unfortunately, the same often goes for an impressive list of extracurriculars. But there is one secret ingredient that absolutely helps: having at least one internship under your belt.
Now, getting all the benefits of an internship requires more than simply showing up. Some seek out just the title and a chance to add another line to their resume. But others seek more. To do more, to be more, and to leave an impact. But even with the second approach, there’s still the question: what do you really take from it? Besides a resume point?
Well, there are three crucial things.
This is the most important one. Forming relationships with people in your professional field is one of the most important things you can do at every level of your career. When you’re just starting out in an internship, you have the opportunity to start building that network and that can be pretty awesome.
It’s a rare opportunity to be surrounded by people actually working in your desired field right from the start of your career. So it is important to try to talk to as many as possible, ask them questions about how they got where they are, and get some applicable, tried-and-true advice. And listen! You will be learning a huge amount of information in a very short time. Learn how to listen and take good notes. Also, there is always that chance of more paid job opportunities in the future if you make your willingness to learn, work, and contribute known.
Whatever on-the-job expertise you gain from your internship, the longer-term benefits are likely to come from the relationships you form while working there. My advice is, don’t avoid any kind of group event that’s open to employees, even if it’s not mandatory. And even if you’re an introvert, don’t let that stop you. We are talking about your future here.
It’s like in any team sport. A team cannot win if the teamwork is poor, even if the individual performances are good. Your internship experience is not your college project where, let’s admit it, sometimes one person did all the work and the grades were shared among the rest.
In an internship, you establish good work habits and you learn to work as a team without focusing entirely on yourself. You also develop patience in situations when you disagree with another member(s) of the team and learn how to explain your perspective and choose the right arguments.
You will learn how to build relationships with the people you work with. You’ll learn how to introduce yourself (sounds simple, but it can be tricky), write a professional email, talk about your knowledge, interests, and skills. Most importantly, you will learn how to ask questions and to be concise and precise in your communication with others. That will help you gain a better understanding of business and your role in the organization.
Communication is the key to success in a professional environment. Asking for help and clarification is always better than pretending you’ve understood what you need to do, no matter what.
However, if you can Google something, then do. Avoiding asking questions if you can find answers elsewhere is part of being a good communicator – keep in mind that everyone’s time is valuable.
To Sum Up
The truth is, there is an incredible amount of things you’ll learn during your internship. First and foremost, you’ll learn how to put your knowledge and skills into practice. Then, some simple things. Like the fact that enthusiasm is invaluable! And you will also become aware of the benefits of asking for and receiving feedback which will help you grow and excel in your career (and life). If you’re lucky, you may even find a good mentor, someone who will give guidance in your career and help you evolve to your full potential.
However, the most valuable advice I can give you is don’t forget to have fun. Yes, networking is important. Yes, working hard can essentially be described as key to success. But internships should be fun. From my experience, when you’re happy to be there, other people will notice and your passions will shine through.
–Sanja Gardašević is the brand consultant for Domain.ME, the international tech company that operates the internet domain “.ME”, and encourages students to place emphasis on ways they can stand out in the recruitment process by focusing on their online presence.