Image Credit: "Rock Stacking" by Chris Geatch

Image Credit: “Rock Stacking” by Chris Geatch

Summer is near, and so is the season of internships. This post is primarily for my student readers. (I’ll have another post next week for those who are supervising or working with interns.) Here are 10 easy steps for rocking your internship.

  1. Learn names. I know the first few days are overwhelming with all the people you will likely meet. Ask if there’s an org chart with photos (some companies have them — they’re a great help). Write down names as soon as you can, along with something about what the person does and how you may be working with him or her. Greet people by name the next time you see them. And if you forget a name, just ask the person for a reminder — the sooner the better.
  2. Be on time. Always. And find out what “on time” means at your new organization. For some, a 10:00 meeting means that people should walk in the door at 10:00. For others, it means arrive before then, and be ready to jump into the first agenda item at 10:00.
  3. Dress the part. For the first week or so, take note of how others dress in your office, and dress similarly if possible. Ask your supervisor about attire, when in doubt. And it never hurts to dress a little more professionally than the norm, especially if your role is client-facing.
  4. Ask questions. You aren’t expected to know how to do everything on Day One.
  5. Recap every meeting. Takes notes and be sure you know what action items from the meeting have been assigned to you.
  6. Avoid personal use of social media on the job. Focus your time and efforts on your employer, and save personal use of social media for breaks and lunchtime. And if your internship requires you to interact in social media, be sure to post from the correct account. (There are numerous examples of people accidentally tweeting, etc., from their own accounts. Trust me.)
  7. Don’t complain, especially publicly. Internships (and jobs) are not all sunshine, roses and unicorns. Do what you’re asked (within reason) with a smile on your face and a positive attitude. If things aren’t going well, discuss it with your supervisor. Don’t take it to social media, even with vague complaints; it may come back to haunt you.
  8. Save copies of your work. Unless your employer specifically prohibits it, save as much as you can of the content you produce. You may need to share copies to earn credit for your internship.
  9. Keep in touch with faculty. Even if it’s not required, send periodic updates of your internship with relevant faculty members at your university. They really want you to succeed, and most are willing to offer help or advice when you need it.
  10. Leave an impression. Recap the body of your work and share it with your supervisor and any co-workers who might benefit from it. Let them know how to reach you once the internship is over. Connect with them on LinkedIn. (You are on LinkedIn, right? And your profile is updated, including the internship, right?) Keep those bridges clean, clear and unburned.

What other tips would you offer?

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