So you submitted your resume and cover letter, made through the interview round, and finally got a call back that said you got the internship position! Congratulations! You deserve a pat on the back for all your hard work! But getting the internship position doesn’t mean that your journey ends here. You still need to work hard and prove to recruiters that they have made the right decision of hiring you. This is especially important if you’re considering applying for a full-time position at the company in the future. You’ll want to receive strong positive recommendations from your managers and coworkers based on your contributions to the company. You’ll want to become a valuable asset to the company.
Below is a list of tips on how to be a stand out intern and make the best of your internship experience. Although some of these tips may seem like common senses, you’ll be surprised at how many people forget and not pay pay attention to them.
- Always be punctual
- Be proactive
- Be honest and transparent
- Ask lots of questions
- Ask for feedback
- Be sociable and approachable
- Be professional and respectful
- Find a mentor
- Don’t be afraid to offer new perspectives and challenge existing ideas
- Treat your internship as if it’s a real job
I can’t stress this enough, but punctuality is extremely important in the workplace. This applies to both coming to work on time and meeting deadlines. How can your managers trust you with important projects and meetings when you’re constantly arriving late or not able to finish your work? Being punctual shows that you’re dependable and responsible, and that you actually care about the internship. This is a crucial trait to keep in mind in order to be a stand out intern.
Don’t be afraid to take initiatives and step outside of your comfort zone. Let your managers and coworkers know that you’re interested in contributing to a project or report and learn from them. Being proactive shows your desire to learn and be exposed to different aspects of your job.
Talk to your managers and coworkers if you have any problem or require assistance. If you feel like you need more time to finish a report that’s due in 2 days, be honest and communicate that with your managers. If you feel like you’re carrying too much workload on your shoulder and are unsure how to balance it with school, communicate that to your managers to figure out a solution. After all, you’re still in school. Your superiors will understand that academic plays an important role and you still need to focus on your academic work. Remember that communication is the key. No one would be able to help you if you don’t tell him/her.
You will have a lot of questions during your first few weeks of the internship. If you don’t know something and can’t find the answer on your own, ask. Ask your managers, supervisors, and coworkers. They’ll be more than happy to help you. Asking questions shows your curiosity and interest in the internship and the company. I highly suggest trying to find the answers on your own first though, because it means that you at least try instead of continuously bombarding your managers and coworkers with endless questions.
I found this trait extremely important and useful during my internship. Whenever I was working on a new project, I always asked my supervisor to provide me with feedback to make sure that I was on the right track. Of course receiving compliments would be nice, but sometimes you’ll need to hear constructive criticisms as well, especially if you’re new to the task and don’t understand it well. Ask for feedback and understand your supervisors’ expectations for you. If your supervisors and coworkers compliment your progress, keep up with the good work. Otherwise, ask how you could improve and learn from your mistakes. This shows that you’re willing to learn, have an open mind, and take your internship seriously.
It’s extremely important to build rapports and relationships in the workplace. This applies towards your coworkers, managers, and clients. Don’t be afraid to start small talks with your coworkers who sit right next to you. Ask about their weekends, what’s their hobbies and interests, and their experience with the company. Or simply smile, say “Good morning” when you come in, and “Thank you” and “Please” when they help you with something. Although these simple gestures and phrases seem like common sense, they really do make a positive different. If a coworker needs help with something, be approachable and offer a helping hand. But don’t be too sociable and share all your personal stories either (unless you’ve reached a certain level of familiarity and comfort with your coworkers). Your manager may be more interested in whether or not you’ve finished your report instead of hearing your relationship stories or how drunk you were last weekend!
Bonus tip: When you first start your internship, I highly recommend scheduling short 15-minutes meetings with all your coworkers and managers (or with anyone you’ll be working with) individually to get to know them more and establish a connection. It doesn’t have to be a formal meeting in a meeting room, but can be a quick lunch break or coffee break. I did this during the first week at my internship and learned so much about my managers and coworkers. It’s also a great way for you to remember everyone’s names.
Always maintain high professionalism in the workforce and be respectful to your managers and coworkers, whether you like them or not. That ranges from the way you talk and interact with your coworkers to the way you dress. Personally, I feel that it’s better to be extra formal instead of acting too casually (this is extra important if you’re the youngest intern in the office). You don’t want to give the wrong impression that you’re a rude individual.
Find a mentor who’s willing to help you and guide you throughout your internship. It’s always good to have a mentor who supports you and makes your interning experience much more manageable. During my internship, my supervisor was also my mentor. He constantly provided me with very useful feedback and advice and always followed up with my progress. Remember that your mentor can still be your life-long friend even after your internship ends!
I found this advice can go either way, positively or negatively. It really depends on your company’s culture and your managers’ openness. From my personal experience, managers prefer interns who offer their own fresh perspectives and contribute new ideas to the company. You’re more likely to stand out as an intern if you contribute to your team’s discussion instead of not saying anything and only doing what everyone else tells you to do. It’s good to be critical, to speak up and offer your own ideas, but don’t just criticize every single thing. At least be open to learn and listen to others first.
I know a lot of interns who don’t take their internships seriously because for them, “an internship isn’t really a job.” Big mistake. Regardless of the pay and benefits of your internship, you need to take it seriously and treat it like a real job. This is crucial if you’re considering applying for a full-time position at the same company that you’re interning or getting recommendations from your managers. How can your managers write you strong recommendations when you don’t take this internship seriously and try all your best? You’ll be amazed at how much knowledge and skills you can gain if you put in a lot of effort for your internship. And trust me, it’s always worth it!
About Hue La
Hey there, I'm Hue (pronounced “huay”, not “hue” like how you would normally say it in English). I'm a USC graduate and traveler with 6+ years of study abroad experience in the U.S. I founded Study Abroad Corner with the goals of providing helpful advice and building a social network for fellow study abroaders around the world.