By Katlyn Hirokawa
You survived the interview process. You accepted the internship offer. Now what? Whether your end goal is to receive a job offer or gain experience in your field, everyone wants to make a good impression with their employer. However, executing one’s intern duties well is only a small part of your internship experience. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your internship:
- Ask people to connect over coffee! Even if it means going out of your comfort zone.
Asking your work colleagues to get coffee with you is a great way to network, gain advice and learn more about your field. You might feel awkward doing this at first (especially if you tend to be shy like me), but the conversations you have outside of your office can be very enlightening and open doors to new opportunities. Expressing to your superiors that you want to learn from them beyond the day-to-day work interactions not only builds relationships, but also can lead to new connections with others. Sometimes I’ve been able to schedule informational interviews after getting coffee with people, simply because they were willing to connect with me with others who could appeal towards my interests and career aspirations.
Pro Tip: Ask your manager out to coffee too! Even though you may interact with them often, doesn’t mean that they can’t give you more in-depth advice or connections to impart.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up when things aren’t what you expect or if you want more opportunities.
These situations can be tricky to navigate, especially because interns don’t want to upset anyone or come off as “ungrateful.” However, most employers want interns to have the best experience possible, and they want everyone to leave with a good impression of the organization. So whether you aren’t getting enough work to do or you would like to have more/different opportunities, don’t be afraid to communicate that to your manager or team. They won’t know what you want out of the internship unless you speak up.
Pro Tip: I find that it is a good idea to feel out the internship for the first few weeks to get a sense of what you’ll be working on before you make conclusive judgments.
- Know your news!
In communications it is expected that people know the key trends in the media surrounding the clients or specialty areas you are working on. For example, since my main field of interest is technology, I check trade publications such as TechCrunch or Wired daily. Also, setting Google Alerts is a good way to keep on top of the news and the issues you are focusing on.
Pro Tip: Flag media items to your team or manager if you come across something you think they would be interested in.
- Take initiative, but don’t overload yourself.
Taking initiative by offering to do extra work or going that extra mile on projects you’ve been working on is great. However, you shouldn’t feel pressured to do so if your plate is too full. I find that it is better to execute a few tasks really well rather than a handful of tasks at a sub-par level. Also, overwhelming yourself may look bad to your employer if it affects your performance. Only you know how much work you can handle, so be smart when deciding on when to take the initiative and have the bandwidth to do so.
Pro Tip: Communicating your workload to your colleagues is key! Always ask if there is a hard deadline on whatever you are working on, and if you find that you can’t finish something on time just let people know in advance.
- Lastly, have an open mind.
Be optimistic towards new experiences since opportunities to work on something different can open your eyes to new interests. No matter what internship or job you find yourself in, there are always going to be things that you are tasked to do but are not necessarily interested in or excited about. Challenge yourself to give every task or project a chance to surprise you.