I would like to take this moment to offer some of the things I’ve learned in my experience with internships that might be helpful to those beginning their internship search or choosing between internships.
1. Interviews are not just a chance to prove you’re worth hiring.
- While interviews are a time that you want to prove to you future boss that you are right for the job, they are also a chance to see if the internship is right for you. Makes sure you ask questions about the work you will be doing, the expectations you will be held to, and the environment in which you will work (What responsibilities will you have? Will there be other interns? How many? Will you be in a cubical by yourself or in an office with a staff member? Etc.)
2. Even if it’s easy or you don’t have enough work push yourself to do you best.
- A lot of times working hard and asking questions can make you stand out. Don’t waste time just because you know your boss is out of projects for you to do. Complete all your projects in timely way and to the best of your ability. Find ways to ask you boss (or bosses) for more work and if they have nothing for you ask what you can do or things you can read that will expand your understanding of what the organization is and the work it does.
3. Get to know the people for whom you work.
- Everyone says interning is a great networking opportunity; it’s true! Expect when it’s inappropriate always say hi when you come into the office and bye when you leave. Ask the people you intern for how they are doing, how they got to their positions, or any other small talk you can to start building a relationship.
4. Internships can give you great connections, not just a resume line.
- Once you build relationships with the people you are working for they will know you better. This will help them find projects for you and give them a reason to recommend you to someone else.
5. Some internships just aren’t worth it.
- Often organizations that have interns do so for a reason. Do your best to tackle the project you are given; find ways to gain the trust required to take on projects that really help out the organization. If you realize that you are not valued and therefore can’t really contribute; it might we wise to consider quitting. I know that sounds harsh, but there’s about a hundred more valuable things you can do than sit at an internship staring into space. The only exception might be if the organization is a big name and even if you don’t gain any experience you will win by having the name on your resume.
6. Go into an internship with the mission to help.
- Internships are a chance for you to help out an organization. It’s not just about you gaining a resume line; you can also really make a difference. Do your best to tackle challenges and move the organization forward. Remember, just because your there a short time doesn’t mean you can make a lasting difference.
*Stay tuned for a blog this weekend on what I’ve been up to at holaciudad.com.