It seems that scoring an internship is now a quintessential part of the college experience – and that’s a great thing! It’s the best way to learn about the “professional world” while still in school, and it’s a great way to learn what will be expected of you in the “real world.” If you’ve never had an internship before – don’t panic! We’ve made a list of do’s and don’ts that will help you find an internship, impress your bosses, and give you an extra edge in your job search.
When you’re looking for an internship, it’s your responsibility to do your research as to what departments, companies, and specific programs are best for you. Company websites are great starting points, and your college’s career center is full of resources that can help you in your search.
Don’t: Be close—minded
The internship application process can be competitive, so even if you have one or two dream internships you’re interested in, cast a wide net. Give yourself a broad goal, like an industry or kind of company you want to work for, and be open to differences in the details. If you narrow your search too much, you’ll risk missing out on amazing opportunities you could have had otherwise.
Do: Keep track of all your applications
You’ll have to send out several applications when you’re searching for an internship, so keep a detailed chart of the companies and positions you applied to. You wouldn’t want to accidentally submit multiple applications, and when you get offered an interview, you’ll want to remember exactly what you said in your application to make them want to reach out to you.
Don’t: Panic about your interview
Once you get offered an interview, take a deep breath. An interview means that they like you and want to hear more about your experience. So long as you do your research on the company and prepare yourself for basic interview questions (a summary of yourself, reasons you want this internship, etc.), you’ll be totally fine! Remember to be friendly, positive, and professional when speaking with your potential supervisor. You only get one chance at a first impression.
Do: Arrive early (and ready to work!) on your first day
Now that you’ve landed an internship, be prepared to work hard. Plan to arrive early on your first day (and every day after), and remember that now you have to live up to all those promises you made in your interview. Internships are learning experiences, and you’re there to work hard and learn as much as you can for the few months that you’re there.
Don’t: Say no
It goes without saying that if you’re ever asked to do something that makes you uncomfortable, you can/should say no. But otherwise, when you’re asked to help a different department than you’re assigned to or asked to stay late to help with somebody else’s project, say yes. Again, your internship will only last a few months, so take advantage of every opportunity that crosses your path. Who knows? A casual assignment might introduce you to a potential career path you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
Do: Make friends
Be nice to everyone you meet – from your co-intern to the receptionist to your boss’ boss. Not only will this give you a positive reputation around the office, but forming genuine relationships with your peers can lead to long-term friendships – and even potential job prospects.
Don’t: Ignore feedback
At most companies, you’ll receive a performance review at the end of your internship, as well as future job advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on your performance sooner, and when you do, implement it immediately. Handling criticism well is the mark of a true professional, and you’ll impress everyone around you.
Do: Keep in touch!
When your internship ends, the relationships you’ve built and the experience you’ve gained can carry on to other opportunities if you let it. Keep in touch with your former co-workers via social media and email (and, if you’re in the area, offering to buy them a cup of coffee never hurts). When the time comes for another internship or job search, your connections will be able to help you find a position you truly love.