how to get ahead at your internship

how to get ahead at your internship

‘Tis the season for applying to and accepting internship positions! We’re not quite at internship season, but I wanted to share some internship tips for anyone who will be starting a new position in the spring or is preparing for their first summer internship.

Interning is an important part of the process of finding a job once you graduate. I did two great internships while in college and learned so much – not to mention, my internships helped me get a job after I graduated.

1. Ask for feedback.

The No. 1 tip I have for any intern, in any industry – ask for feedback.

When you work on a project or complete a task, ask the people working with you or reviewing your work for feedback throughout the process and after completion. If you’re lucky, your supervisors will provide you with plenty of feedback during your internship, but taking the initiative to ask shows how much you care. Also, there are some supervisors out there who might be waiting for you to ask.

Hearing feedback gives you an opportunity to learn from everything you do at your internship, but asking for it shows you’re willing to learn and grow. Both are important components of a good internship experience.

2. Take advantage of extra opportunities.

If there’s an opportunity to work on a holiday, sit in on a meeting or take on an extra assignment, always jump up, raise your hand, shout out loud – “me, me, me!” OK, maybe don’t shout. You’ll scare people.

But really. If your employer needs someone to work on the Fourth of July, or stay late to help with something, and you are able to… do it!

Also, while I’m here… let’s take a second to remind everyone who is in the position to make this decision… PAY. YOUR. INTERNS!

3. Socialize with your coworkers and the other interns. 

In my internship experiences, I’ve found there are usually two groups of people – the interns who like to socialize and connect with each other, and the interns who try to soak up as much as they can from their coworkers. I was usually the latter, and avoided my fellow interns, unless I already knew them from college.

The best way to be, I realize now, is somewhere in the middle – connect with your fellow interns, but take advantage of time with your coworkers, too. This is how you find colleagues, make connections, network, build friendships and foster mentorship.

4. Ask questions.

Sometimes, as an intern, you’re just waiting for an opportunity to prove yourself – so you hesitate to ask questions, in case your supervisor thinks you can’t handle something. Just like asking with feedback, sometimes, your supervisors will be waiting for you to ask questions.

I’ve learned after countless mistakes (made by me!) that it’s better to ask questions at the beginning or whenever you have them, rather than repeat the work later because you made a mistake or were confused about the assignment. It saves everyone time. Don’t be a hero!

5. Be bold. 

Don’t hesitate to advocate for yourself, raise your hand, lean in, whatever it is. And bring your fellow interns along with you for the ride.

If you have an idea, or want to participate in a conversation, be bold and share. Just because you’re an intern doesn’t mean you can’t bring something to the table.

My important counter-advice, of course: Avoid talking just to talk. Be known as the person who brings something valuable to the table.