Gaining an internship at the company of your dreams is a HUGE win. Never underestimate how big an opportunity it is – the intern market is extremely competitive; and for good reason. Snagging an internship is a foot in the door and a chance to prove yourself to your desired employer. It will quite often lead to a job offer.
As internships are often unpaid, giving up your time for the company and going the extra mile is noted as a big show of commitment on your part. When roles open up internally or there’s bandwidth to make a hire, you’ll likely get the call up before the job ever reaches the external market. At the end of your internship you should know the systems, the people, the ins and outs of the business. If you’ve proven yourself properly, the company would be crazy not to bring you on board.
Whatever you do, don’t let yourself down by treating the internship like ‘extra work’. Treat it like a golden ticket to your desired career. Go hard or go home. If you remember to do these 4 things, you’ll be ordering your morning coffee off of the new intern, quicker than you can say “who takes milk?”
1. Get in early, and never leave first
You won’t have to do this for your whole professional life, don’t worry. It is, however, important to go the extra mile for the duration of the internship. Getting in early, even if it’s just by 15 minutes, shows you’re serious about what you’re doing. Realistically, the extra time won’t mean you’ll get that much work done, but all it does is paint a positive picture of you in the eyes of the management team. You’ll also feel a lot calmer and in control if you allow yourself time to settle in before the day kicks off.
Likewise, never be the office clock-watcher who is always the first to leave for the day. Your internship is like one giant job interview – don’t rush in and out like you’ve got way better places to be. Some people might disagree, but if you aren’t the only intern, try to be the last one standing every day. It’s unlikely multiple interns will get jobs at the end of their time – so you need to make sure if an opportunity arises, you’re the clear favourite.
2. Remind yourself you’re not there yet
Don’t get too big for your boots. Even if you feel like you’re smashing your tasks out of the ballpark, don’t let your ego take over. You need to remain humble, yet confident. Employers won’t take kindly to big-noting behaviours or demanding asks. Bite your tongue if you feel like you’re being babied – you’re in a period of learning. Be a sponge and soak it all up.
3. Look the part
So you mightn’t be there yet, but you need to show you could be one day, very soon. Make sure your outfits are in line with what the other staff members are wearing. Don’t dress down, just becuase you aren’t out meeting clients yet or in front of the customer. Taking pride in your professional appearance is important – you want your manager to know you take the opportunity seriously and consider yourself ready to step up.
4. Be proactive
Yes, you need to stay humble and willing to learn at all times, but you also need to back yourself and be proactive. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you – if you’ve landed an internship, the business has faith that there is a mutually beneficial reason for you being there. Look for projects to get involved in – network with the existing employees to see if you can tag along with them to meetings or help them out with something. Offer to look into a new idea on behalf of the company, or do some research you know will help the company.
Some companies offer internships, but don’t really have the manpower internally to provide you with a one-on-one coach. You will often be left to your own devices, which might seem daunting at the start, but is actually a blessing in disguise. Turn little direction or radio silence into a golden opportunity to use your initiative and prove you don’t need your hand held. And finally, NEVER STOP ASKING QUESTIONS. It’s the only way you will learn, and managers respect professionals who are inquisitive and concentrated on learning properly, and getting the most out of the experience. If you’re made to feel stupid for asking genuine questions, run for the hills – you don’t want to work there anyway.