Whether you are winding down from a summer internship or preparing for a fall internship, there are a few ways to stand out as THE intern. You can be THE intern in a sea of interns, or simply the one intern that has been the most efficient in the last year or last few seasons. Here are 5 quick tips to help keep you sharp!
#1 Always Be On Time
This is a simple, but important standard of the workplace. Respecting the expected time of arrival demonstrates an ability to follow simple rules and puts you in a position to be trusted with a responsibility greater than just showing up. Arriving 3 or 5 minutes late constantly is a no-no!
#2 Stay Aware Of Your Image
In addition to dressing professionally on a regular basis (i.e. be sure your heels aren't too tall, your hemline isn't too short, or that you never try to get away with jeans in the office unless explicitly encouraged), never look underwhelmed or even bored while you are in the office. Try instead, to demonstrate active engagement and show a positive disposition. If your workload has proven to be a little too light, try talking with your supervisor about picking up the pace of things. Explain to your superior that, while you hope this internship is a benefit to you, you are also interested in being an asset to the work environment and that may be possible if your workload mirrored the fast past of the office setting.
#3 Werk Werk Werk
This should go without saying, but expect to be doing work. If you do not truly want to be enhanced by an internship opportunity, do not do yourself the disservice of applying, interviewing, and fulfilling an internship you would rather not have. Regardless of whether or not the opportunity is paid or unpaid, it should always be an experience that is taken seriously. You can demonstrate your seriousness in your constant preparation for the work you believe is coming your way. A trick that your supervisors are likely to notice, is starting new work that is consistent with the flow and pace of the work you have already been distributed.
Everyone loves the intern who grows to understand the flow of the office and is able to merge well into it. Being able to complete assignments well, and use foresight to figure out either what's next or helpful, are what can greatly differentiate you from other interns.
#4 Build A Network With Your Peers
Connect to your supervisor, their peers, and other interns. Depending on the size of your company and the flow of your industry, your office may have dozens of interns. You should want not only be memorable but also to demonstrate that you are full-time material. How you go about building authentic connections in the office will help you get closer to that goal. Consider creating time to speak with your supervisor and ask substantial questions. I say create time because, given the workload of your supervisor, they may or may not have time to chat over lunch or during work hours. Based on their schedule and perceived availability, try to find a good time to pose a question and peek their curiosity in you. Asking questions you already know the answer to is a waste of their time and yours, so get creative in your question development.
If your supervisor is too busy altogether, try engaging with some of your superiors that still fall within the department you are currently working in. If you, for example, are working for a finance firm, in marketing, legal or compliance and your supervisor is the director of the department, try engaging with more entry and mid-level officers for general advice, additional work, and extra support.
Last but not least, consider connecting with other interns. You may be thinking that the two of you are in competition, and you very well may be, but what you want is to find connections and make allies. The two of you, or a small group of you, can create a work-relationship where you discuss the type of work you are completing and give each other feedback on what you can improve. You can send your fellow intern your writing assignments to proofread for grammar, style, and fluidity, and in return, they can do the same. Creating this peer-relationship is a means of developing a system of mutual benefit that sharpens all of the involved parties.
#5 Thank Everyone That Invested Time In You During Your Internship Process
Writing thank you notes to be distributed on the last day of the internship is a good way to show how grateful you are to the people who have invested time and attention into your experience. Do not give everyone identical thank you cards, your move can backfire and seem ingenuous. Instead, personalize each card to reflect what each individual person contributed to your internship. Prior to your departure date, add your co-workers and supervisors on LinkedIn and ask if you can keep in touch via email.
After the fact, be sure to add them and email them seasonally to stay connected. You want to build your network to exercise genuine connections. In the coming months, email them inquiring of whether or not you can buy them coffee or lunch and chat for 30 minutes or so. Even consider keeping those who were truly interested in your progress up to date on what has been going on with you, and be sure to inquire about how things have been going for them as well. Remember that all connections are dependent on a mutual relationship.
Share how you excelled at your internship below!