Internships are extremely important for landing a great job after school. But if you’re just picking up coffee and getting the assistant’s dry cleaning, it’s easy to get bogged down. Even if your internship is less than ideal, you can still make the most of it. Here’s how to ensure you finish your position feeling confident and ready to move on to the next.
- Build Relationships with Coworkers
One of the best things a bout an internship is the opportunity to interact with professionals in your preferred industry. Even if you’re stuck in the mailroom, take the opportunity to become friendly with as many people as possible. Learn how they got to their position, what they like about it, and what their goals for the future are. If there’s someone at the company you’d really like to meet, but aren’t sure how to approach them, as a fellow coworker for an introduction. Companies are often happy to help interns out with meetings and opportunities like this, especially if they’re working for a low rate.
You don’t have to be best friends with anyone, but make the connections you can. If appropriate, add them on LinkedIn. Grow your network to help you get your next job, and maybe even find your career mentor.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
Unfortunately, some companies might make you the dumping ground for those tasks no one else wants to do. Or, they might leave you in a corner and basically forget you exist. While you are”just the intern,” and don’t want to be too demanding, it’s ok to speak up if you’re not getting the experience you were promised. If it seems like they don’t have many tasks for you, ask to sit in on meetings you find interesting, or if you can shadow other employees in different departments.
If they’re not giving you taks you feel comfortable with, talk to your supervisor, or the internship coordinator. Don’t sit in a 3-month stint feeling abused. Speak up and see if you can make changes so its a valuable experience for everyone.
3. Make Yourself Valuable
You can ask other employees, especially those more in the entry-level, if there is something you can do to help them. Also make time to see if there are problems around the office that need fixing. Organize the copy room. Take time looking through the website for typos. Make notes on where you think you could make improvmeents, and pitch the project to your supervisor.
Don’t cross a line and steal tasks from other people. Always ask if you’re unsure, and don’t attempt anything massive that would be a disaster if you do it wrong.
Even if they haven’t given you many tasks, you don’t want people to just see you checking your Twitter feed all day long. Find ways to make yourself useful, and show that you’re willing to take initiative to help the team.
4. Ask Questions
Internships are about learning. You have the chance to be a fly on the wall for a company in your industry that you might want to work for in the future. Learn why they use different processes and how the company runs.
Use your downtime to learn. Research as much as you can about the company and your coworkers. Depending on the environment, try to get some time with different employees over coffee, lunch, or an informational interview to learn more about their career journey.