Making The Most Of Your Internship
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Now that you have survived a competitive recruiting process
and landed an internship in the field of your choice, your
tendency might be to lean back and enjoy the ride. Nothing
could be more certain to result in a disappointing experience
for both you and your employer. While your role as an intern
can be strictly or loosely defined, you should arrive at
the doorstep of your internship with the attitude that you
alone are responsible for making your internship an enjoyable
and rewarding experience.
Below are tips on how you can capitalize on your experience
and make the most of your internship.
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- Set Goals: Before you accepted
your internship you hopefully investigated the kind of
work you would be doing and clarified your employer's
expectations. With this information, you should set goals
about what you hope to leave your internship having learned
or done. Share your ambitions with the person or persons
monitoring your work and monitor your progress toward
this goal throughout your internship.
- Immerse Yourself: Learn as
much as you can about the industry or organization with
which you are working. Read trade journals, interact with
people in different departments, and throw yourself into
your assignments. Go above and beyond the call of duty.
Always Do Your Best Work: Even when doing clerical work
or rote tasks, do not complain or slack off. Keep in mind
that your supervisors need to know you are capable of
small things before they trust you with substantive tasks.
Give all your work your best effort.
- Take Initiative: Seek out
opportunities to learn. Do the work you are assigned,
but don't wait to be asked to participate in activities
you find interesting. Ask questions and try to sit in
on meetings where decisions are made. By learning about
the context in which your work takes place, you have the
opportunity to appreciate the role you play as well as
become involved in special projects.
- Locate a Mentor: In
the early stages of your internship, find a mentor who
is open to meeting with you on a regular basis. Try to
have a standing lunch date every other Friday, for example.
Ideally, this person is the one who is monitoring your
work, but you might choose someone who happens to be engaged
in interesting work or expresses special interest in enriching
your experience. Ask this person questions about his or
her career and what makes them excited to be working for
the firm or organization.
- Be Professional: Dress appropriately
for work and arrive on time. Observe how colleagues interact
with each other, but be respectful of your place as an
intern. Be sensitive to the fact that administrative staff
or other entry-level employees might resent that you appear
to have "leapfrogged" over them. Do not gossip about coworkers,
play office politics, or conduct personal business on
company time or with company resources, even if you see
others engaged in that behavior. Even in moments of stress,
maintain a positive attitude.
- Reflect on your Experience:
Throughout your internship reflect on what you are observing
and doing. Are you meeting your goals? Analyze what you
like or dislike about the work you are doing. Are you
excited about the industry or function you are performing?
Does this work suit your talent and temperament? Assess
how your internship has impacted your career goals. Where
do you want to go from here?