10 Commandments of the Perfect Intern
With the internship season almost upon us, we decided it’s high time we shared some wisdom about how students and young professionals can make the most out of their apprenticeships.
Internships remain one of the best ways to get hands-on experience in your industry of interest and get your foot in the door at a company before you graduate.
But to maximize your chances of success, you need to act the part and stick to the following best practices:
- Treat it like a job.
Combining your classes, homework and an internship can be quite a challenge. Sometimes it’s hard to commit to an unpaid internship and give it 100%. However, it’s about the only way you can really learn and get a chance to be considered for a full-time position afterwards. Make yourself an indispensible part of their team and demonstrate that you add real value to the organization, and your employers will be hard-pressed to let you go afterwards. And even if you don’t get the job, by treating your internship like a real job, you’ll be able to learn a lot more and put that experience to good use in the future.
- Be responsive and demonstrate a can-do attitude.
Getting your first internship can be an overwhelming experience: most of the time you’ll have no idea what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and show that you are enthusiastic about learning new things.
- Ask questions.
Asking questions is not a sign of incompetence, on the contrary, it shows that you are listening and processing information, wanting to learn more about it. No one will expect you to have all the answers; so asking for additional guidance is totally appropriate for an intern.
- Dress accordingly.
You might be used to wearing shorts and sneakers on campus, but the office environment demands appropriate attire. Even if you were not specifically advised to stick to a certain dress code, going with “business casual” would be a smart choice.
- No task is too small.
Being a new intern, you might be given tasks that seem unimportant or monotonous, but this is often when your diligence and work ethic can shine through. Take on every task with enthusiasm and commitment to do the best possible job you can, and your employer will notice that.
- Think like a problem solver.
Things will not always go as planned and tasks won’t always come together as intended. Don’t be discouraged by initial snags and approach problems from different angles. Remember to be resourceful, show initiative, creativity and the desire to find solutions to problems within your environment.
- Be ready to put in extra hours.
As we mentioned earlier, combining education and an internship can leave you feeling like there isn’t enough hours in the day. Still, your internship projects may sometimes require you to work after hours or come in on your days off. If you are serious about acing your internship, these instances can serve as good opportunities to demonstrate your commitment and value you can add to the company.
- Communicate regularly with your supervisor.
Don’t forget to provide regular updates to your supervisor and touch base on the progress of your assignments. The ability to establish rapport and communicate effectively is an important skill for any employee and will serve you well in increasing your chances of securing the job afterwards.
- Be on time.
Whether it’s meeting deadlines or simply showing up for work, it’s important to be punctual. If you are running behind, make sure to inform your supervisor in advance.
- Be proactive.
One of the best ways to show your commitment and value to your employer is to be proactive and think of ways your skills can be applied for the benefit of the company. Do additional research on your company, the industry and the competition. Stay up-to-date with the industry news and try to immerse yourself in the mindset of a seasoned expert.