Faced with today's job market, it is essential to gain experience early on in your career. Once thought of as a college luxury rather than a college requirement, internships are becoming vastly popular among high achieving high school students. Gaining experience before college is now essential to getting your foot in the door and experiencing an industry before studying it in college.
Once you find your internship, it's key to make a strong impression and make a positive impact on the company or organization.
- The First Impression - Think of an internship as a job interview. Learn as much as you can about the company before your first day. When you arrive on your first day...start with a positive attitude and a cheerful smile. And, dress the part!
- Channel Your Expectations - Being an intern is your chance to gain exposure to the field and enhance your resume. You won’t become the CEO overnight, but you are taking a first step. Become a sponge! Absorb any insight you can on the structure of the company, how meetings and tasks are handled, the work ethic of others and industry related trends.
- Earn Trust Right Away - Being an intern means you should be making someone else's job easier. Prove yourself by showing attention to detail and following instructions. If your work shows quality and you do a great job at tedious tasks then your mentor might be ready to give you more of a challenge.
- Observe The Office - If this is your first internship, it could be your first experience within a professional atmosphere. Observe the actions of those in the office. Learn from behaviors such as; telephone skills, time management, professionalism and rapport with other members in the office.
- Acknowledge This Is A Real Job - Usually in school a mistake on a test or paper would only impact you and your grade. However, in many jobs, a mistake can be much more serious. Everyone makes mistakes though! If you happen to make a mistake, be honest and tell your mentor. Handle it professionally and learn from the experience!
- Exceed Expectations - Talk to your mentor about what you want out of the internship and what they expect from you. Deliver more than what you were asked. Going above and beyond on your first few assignments will show your hunger to succeed in the field. Companies love to see an intern taking the initiative on their own. This may even lead to a letter of recommendation or a reference which can be pivotal as you continue your experience in the field.
- Ask For Feedback - Probably the most challenging obstacle while being an intern is asking how you are doing because you don't want to come off as bothersome. It's a good chance to ask your supervisor these questions: What could I do differently?, What could I do better?, Am I meeting the goals of the organization?, Am I meeting the goals set by you (supervisor)?... When you receive feedback make sure to use it.
- Learn From Co-Workers - Most people enjoy talking about themselves and would be flattered to answer questions related to their past experiences. Find out about your co-workers' careers and their path to success. Asking about how they got into this field or the challenges they faced will help you build rapport with them. Don't be afraid to ask for advice too! This might make them want to help you.
- Make Connections - Every co-worker that you meet is a chance for you to build on your network and expand your connections. Take time before and after work to build meaningful relationships with co-workers. Learn names, titles, and duties of each co-worker as this could open your eyes to different aspects of the company or industry. Remember the more connections you make the more likely you will be remembered.
- Thank You - Make sure to thank your co-workers, supervisor and manager for the opportunity to intern! They have busy careers and are volunteering their time to work with you. You'd be surprised how far a "Thank You" can go!