Let’s get real: I’m sure you’ve heard tons of internship advice worthy of being printed in a yawn worthy employee handbook. The fact is, YOU are in control of what you take away from this experience. I’ve hired, managed, and referred tons of interns in my career, and I’m here to share the 8 “real” tips I’d share with a friend that will help you be a Rockstar they’ll remember, refer, hire, and avoid being the joke they won’t.
1. Take it seriously. You’re not there to pass time and surf the web (btw- they can see it all). Treat the internship like a real job and a path to your future success. Seek to make a measurable impact. Know what your boss expects from you and how he/she will measure your performance. Future interviewers will want to know how you impacted the organization by being there rather than just sharing a job description. Keep track of all your accomplishments to make sure your resume shines and demonstrates you are a worthy investment for any organization.
2. Remember you’re not at the beach. I totally understand the green envy of your less goal oriented friends hanging at the beach in flip flops, but trust me this is important. You will feel WAY more confident, and you will make a lasting professional impression that will pay career dividends for years. Remember the golden rules: no cleavage, no heels that make you walk like a drunken baby calf, no “I just rolled out of bed” wrinkles and please – check yourself front and back before you leave to make sure your undergarments are, in fact, “under”.
3. Socialize (with a filter). I get it, you may really like your co-workers a whole lot and may even want to be besties. But beware: not everyone with a smile is someone you can (or should) trust. In fact, the workplace can be extremely competitive. Be super careful of the amount of personal information you share and do NOT engage in office gossip or group bitching sessions. It almost always travels outside of the original group. Make it easy on yourself and pretend your boss can hear every single comment.
4. Check your ego. I know you’re confident and you GO girl! But please, remember that now is the time to impress by learning and doing, not advising. Be open to different thinking and communication styles and various ways of doing things. Accept the fact that you’re not working on negotiating world peace…yet 😊. Learn who you want to emulate in your career (and who you don’t). Keep in mind that while enthusiasm and confidence are great, as an intern, you are ultimately there to learn from more experienced individuals. Be humble, be inquisitive, be gracious. All good leaders are!
5. Step away from the phone and make eye contact. Unless, that is, you’re on a hell-bent mission to confirm the pesky stereotype that “those damn kids never take their face out of a screen”. Leave it hidden unless your boss or co-worker specifically asks you to use it. This will give you time to genuinely get to know people. The more colleagues who know you and what you're capable of, the more support you’ll have once it's time to turn your internship into a full-time job. Plus, if your boyfriend or girlfriend gets moody that you won’t text them all day long we should have another conversation about who not to date. Repeat after me “care about me, care about my future”.
6. Be BOLD and find a mentor. Target someone on the leadership team to ask out to coffee or lunch to learn more about their career experience. Ask for words of wisdom. Show up with well thought out questions. If you click with this person, ask if they'd be willing to take you on as their mentee and you will have a career champion for life. I’d be nothing without mine.
7. Stay focused. Don’t be the girl who always shoots her hand up and volunteers at every meeting. First, it’s kind of annoying. Second, even if your boss or team is impressed with your eagerness to help, a few jobs done well is better than twice as many done badly, or not finished at all. Time management is the golden key to your success. If you do have the time, say yes ONLY if it’s aligned to your objectives or the organizations key priorities. Your future resume depends on it!
8. Be AUDACIOUS and ask for feedback. Super impressive! As an intern, you may not have a formal review until the end of the summer — so it's important to ask for feedback on a regular basis to make sure you’re not blindly failing. Not every manager will share with you along the way, some keep feedback like a caged up dirty little secret until the review (note to your future self – never do this!) Take the initiative and be willing to make the changes necessary to succeed. This is also a great way to start learning what your strengths are, because I assume you will be AMAZING!
I hope you aim to THRIVE today!