So you decided to do something worthwhile with your summer and undertake an internship – awesome! You’ve bought the killer outfit, announced to your entire Facebook feed you’ve landed the dream internship and are steadily approaching the end of the academic year: you are summer-ready.
Whether you’re working with the company for a few days or the entire summer, you want to squeeze everything you can out of the experience. You need to make an impression on the people you’re working with, create contacts you can use to kickstart your career and learn vital skills to propel your career in the right direction.
So no matter what you’re doing and where you’re headed next, here’s how to make sure you get the most out of your summer internship…
Ask lots of questions
Never be afraid to ask questions. You might fear you sound stupid or annoying but questions show a healthy inquisitiveness, a desire to learn and improve. Just make sure you don’t ask the same question over and over again as this will imply you are not listening to your colleagues.
Talk to your supervisor about how they got there
Remember it’s not all about you, you, you. Ask your supervisor – and other colleagues – how they got to where they are. If you’re interning there, chances are you’d like to be in their shoes at some stage, and if that’s the case, it will be useful to know the story of their career.
Engaging with the people around you is a key part of turning an internship from just an internship into a positive step toward your future.
Update your CV and LinkedIn
The last thing you want is to forget all the awesome things you are doing. Keep a list of everything you have accomplished on your internship and keep adding to it as you go. As soon as the internship is over, get straight on LinkedIn and update your info or go into your documents and add to your CV.
LinkedIn is so much fun
I should update and put my summer internship in there. Wrench Monkey
— Bumsal (@Ammmsl) September 19, 2017
Write down what you liked/didn’t like
Keeping a note of what aspects of the job you enjoyed and what you didn’t like so much will help you figure out what you want out of your future career.
“What did you like about your projects? Did you prefer working with people, or alone?”
Perhaps you loved working the phones or at the front desk because you got to interact with customers so much, or you hated doing the spreadsheets because you spent too much time staring at a computer screen. In that case, you know your career would be best spent working with people and not sitting at a desk.
Writing down your favourite and least favourite parts will help you reflect on your experiences and work out what motivates you, so you can glean a better understanding of what makes you tick and what you want out of a career.
Ask for feedback
Don’t underestimate the power of feedback: it could be incredibly valuable for when you enter the workplace for real.
University of Notre Dame student Lauren Weetman, who interned at Twentieth Century Fox last summer, told Her Campus if she could change anything about her internship it would be asking for “more feedback informally from people who weren’t my direct supervisors”.
“Internships are critical learning experiences, and I wish I had asked for more feedback,” she added.
When you are at your internship this summer and find you have finished your work ask if your supervisor has anything else you can work on. You want to be interested, motivated and willing to take on new responsibilites #CCPDtips
— Otterbein Career (@OtterbeinCareer) April 12, 2018
CEO Morris Rishty agreed, telling The Business Insider asking for feedback “shows the employer you’re taking initiative and willing to make the changes necessary in order to succeed”.
Keep in touch
Make sure you get the contact details of as many people in your workplace as you can. In an ideal world, you will speak to everyone personally and exchange details. But if the worst comes to the worst, just go on a quick jaunt around the workplace collecting people’s business cards.
— IndianaINTERN (@IndianaINTERN) August 31, 2017
And then? Be sure to check in every so often with those you worked closely with during your internship. You never know, come graduation there might be a position available at the company, and if you stayed keen and in touch, they might have you in mind to fill it. In most industries, knowing the right people can be hugely advantageous.