After numerous applications and interviews, you scored your dream internship. This could be a stepping stone to a fulfilling post-graduate job. Your internship offers the chance to gain real-world skills, valuable contacts, referrals from influential managers and ultimately a job offer.
You could blow your chances if you do not play the game properly. Miss the mark in the following six key areas and you could lose a lot more than the internship.
Company knowledge is vital
If you did not take the time to do company research before you obtained the internship, be sure to get it done before your first day as an intern. Know the names of key managers in your department, as well as senior management. Study the company website to know the products, services, major clients, regions of operations and recent news.
Your appearance matters more than you think. Observe how the staff dresses and review the company handbook for a dress code. To fit in, dress appropriately. No short shirts and low-cut or strappy tops. You don’t have to spend a fortune to look great. Demonstrating that you care about your appearance is more important than designer labels.
Present a professional demeanor
As they say, “You’re in the big leagues now.” Your manager does not want to hear about all-night parties or your boyfriend. Keep a professional attitude. If you share inappropriate details, your manager might have concerns about how you would interface with clients. You want to be friendly and form relationships, but go slow with the exchange of personal information. The same philosophy applies to your virtual life. Adhere to your company’s social media policy and always make smart choices about what you choose to share.
There are no “little things”
Some say it is the little things that matter. However, in a competitive intern program, there are no little things. Always be punctual or early. Offer to help your manager and colleagues. When you complete tasks, take the initiative to be organized for future tasks. Sometimes, it is a nuisance for a manager to find work to keep someone busy. To remedy that, in your next meeting with your manager ask for a list of ways you can provide support during your downtime. If you can’t keep busy, look busy.
Be a “can-do go-to” person
Even if your desk is full and you question the logic of the tasks, your sincere and enthusiastic answer should always be “yes” when assigned a new work task. (Of course, there are exceptions for illegal and immoral tasks.) Skip the sighs and poor attitude. There are probably a dozen candidates who would love to be in your shoes. Remember that when you feel overburdened!
Positive people are valued
No matter how tough your job is, keep your complaints to yourself. If you must vent, invite your best friend to your place on Friday night. Never bash your co-workers, managers or company in any forums where it could become public. At work, you will be drawn into bull sessions. It is best to excuse yourself from the negative talk. You could be the brightest one on the team, but if you are seen as sour, you could be overlooked for new assignments.
The bottom line
An internship can be a dead end, or it can be the beginning of a wonderful career. In some cases, the internship is an extended interview. After the internship, the top performers will be on the short list for future job openings. Follow the above tips and, at the end of your internship, you might find yourself with a full-time job!