Internships can get your foot in the door, or put you top of mind to be recommended for a job elsewhere. Never underestimate the potential of diligence in an internship. Sowing seeds of hard work and excellence could be your foot in the door to the job of your dreams. Here’s a quick list of suggestions to stand out in an internship:
Always do more than what is expected. Maybe you end up spending your first 2 weeks at an internship shadowing someone. Perhaps you’re bummed that your intern aspirations have been shredded along with the mile-high pile of paper you’ve been shackled to for who knows how long. It’s not at all what you expected. Have you considered that perhaps your boss doesn’t know what you’re capable of? If not, show them. Finish your paper shredding faster so you can help prep for a large meeting, or work outside of your internship hours on a social media plan to present the next time you go in. Make it a point to stand out.
Ask clarifying questions. Treat your position as an intern as if it was your full-time job. If you need further direction on a project, ask. If you are unclear on if and how your assignment plays into the big picture, ask. If you wish you could gain more training in an area that you feel weak in, ask. The worst answer you’ll get is a “no” or “I’m not able to answer right now”, but you might also uncover a wealth of knowledge you didn’t realize was there. Not to mention – employers will take notice of your intention and investment in your position.
Don’t be afraid to contribute ideas. For all intents and purposes, interns are a part of the team. You likely won’t be included in every meeting or consulted in every decision, but when you are – take full advantage of it. When in meetings, listen intently for context, take notice of feedback team members give, and challenge yourself to contribute something different and meaningful to the conversation. Even if they don’t end up going with your idea, you’re establishing yourself as a team player and a problem solver – something that will not go unnoticed.
Take constructive criticism like a champ. Nothing screams emotional maturity and “life-long learner” like the person who invites and appreciates feedback. Strive to learn something new, no matter how small, through every conversation – even if you’re learning how not to communicate.
Be grateful. Verbalize your appreciation for any time a company carves out time and energy to make space for you. Even if you start out grabbing coffee, you’re still gaining exposure to your field of interest. Everything you do, good or bad, will leave an impression with the company. Gratitude & humility go a long way.
Not only is an internship an investment in your future career, it provides an opportunity to see your field of interest in the real-world versus the filter of the classroom. You’ll oftentimes find that deadlines are harder and collaboration is necessary, not optional, to tackle a large project. It will also prepare you for important subtleties of real workplace standards so that your first day at the job isn’t your first time in a professional work environment.
Online courses & certifications
Traditional classes teach you theory and some application, whereas online training is like a hyper-focused, one-on-one, learn-at-your-own-pace kind of learning. It can help you hone in on specific skillsets. For example, let’s say you’re taking a digital marketing class, getting to interact with Adwords and social media assignments. You could pair this with an intermediate Lynda course all about Adwords campaigns. Learn more complex skills like re-marketing, scheduling, bid adjustments, and utilizing ad extensions.
Did you know that many certifications are free? Here is a short list of free, highly impressive and resume-boosting certifications:
- Google Adwords
- Google Analytics: Learn how to track website data and interpret into valuable business and marketing insights.
- MOOCs: Massive Open Online Course. There are a wide variety of MOOC options from well-respected universities, many with certificates. This could be a great addition to your coursework if there’s not a class that dives into a specific area you are interested or curious about.
- Notary Public Certificate: This easy and inexpensive certification is great if you’re looking to boost your resume. Companies find it useful to have someone on staff who can notarize documents.
- Hubspot’s Free Inbound Marketing Certification Course: This course covers the basics of inbound marketing from landing page set-up, conversion analysis, basics of SEO, honing inbound marketing sales skills, and more.
Join a student organization. Who wouldn’t want the chance to build strong networking relationships, develop time management and communication skills, and add more experience to their resume? Form peer relationships and connections. For instance, coordinating with vendors and businesses for events. Or, connect with offices on campus to schedule deliveries, spread awareness, and cultivate participation. Create a positive framework for future conversations. Also, consider the benefits of a more public platform on campus where faculty, staff, and administration are more likely to think of you for opportunities.
Every student must weigh their commitments against what additional learning and experience they can add to their plate. Hopefully this article has shed some light on the immense benefit of taking learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Education paired with real world experience is a formula for success after graduation and beyond.
Happy learning, friends!