Since the job market is so competitive, odds are you’ll have to complete at least one internship during your undergraduate career. Internships can be exciting learning opportunities, but every experience is entirely what you make of it.
While there’s no perfect formula for succeeding in an internship, it is important to arm yourself with the right tools to succeed and potentially land a full-time job offer.
Here are seven great ways to make yourself stand out as an intern:
1. Do your homework.
Just like you wouldn’t take an exam without studying, you don’t want to go into your internship without prepping yourself first. If you didn’t do your research before you got the position, make sure you check out the company’s website and know what they’re all about.
It’s also a good idea to do some research on the important people you’ll be working with. Doing your homework also applies once you’ve already started working. If you can’t finish a project at work, take it home. Going above and beyond your work hours (even if you volunteer your time) will really make you stand out.
2. Dress for success.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “dress for the position you want, not the one you have,” a million times, but it still holds true. Make sure you find out from HR or the hiring manager what the office dress code is. With that in mind, it’s still always better to be known as the best dressed intern, than to be known as the one who is too casual. It might seem like a small detail, but always dressing the part won’t go unnoticed.
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3. Treat the internship like a real job.
Whether or not you’re looking for a full-time job, you want your employer to take you seriously. In order to do this, you need to show them that you take the job seriously first.
You need to remember that your work will have an impact on the organization. Even though you might be on the bottom of the office hierarchy, you’re still contributing and your actions affect the whole company.
4. Don’t be afraid to socialize.
If your goal is full time employment, it’s always a good idea to get to know your coworkers. Even if you know your position is temporary, a connection is a connection and your co-workers could connect you to another opportunity.
When you do socialize with your superiors (or even your fellow interns) make sure you proceed with caution. Be careful of the amount of personal information you share and how you behave while socializing. You never know how something could be perceived and stories about bad behavior spread quickly through an office.
Related: 5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Network
5. Practice good time management.
Odds are, as an intern, you’ll have a lot on your plate and have to juggle multiple teams and projects. Because of this, it’s important to always be organized and be careful not to take on too much. Communication is always key here, and if you do find yourself overwhelmed, make sure to let someone know that you can’t complete a project by the deadline.
6. Ask questions.
This one might seem obvious, but a lot of interns are scared to ask questions, or afraid they’ll ask too many. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and step outside your comfort zone. The truth is many bosses and managers would rather you ask a question than make a wrong assumption.
Asking intelligent questions only shows that you’re willing to learn and have a genuine interest in the job and company. Also, in the first few weeks of the internship, don’t be afraid of asking questions that might seem ‘dumb.’ Every internship has an adjustment period, and no one expects you to know what you’re doing 100% of the time.
7. Challenge yourself.
Internships are all about trying new things and gaining new experiences. Take advantage of the learning opportunity, and try to challenge yourself by doing something you have never done before. Make sure you utilize your environment, coworkers, and bosses to learn and develop your industry skills. Take on projects you didn’t think you could, or even try pitching new ideas for the company yourself.
While these tips are all good rules of practice, the most important thing you do in any internship is to just do your best. Give 100% effort in everything that you do and your hard work will never go unnoticed. Putting these methods together, you might even land a full time position after your internship!