1. Be Proactive – Sure, you’re at the bottom of the pecking order, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a positive contribution to the company. Internships, however, are short, so save the aimless Facebook stalking for after 5 pm. If your project load is light, ask how else you can help (politely, just like that). Really nothing more for you to do? Consider taking on an independent research project, like a competitive analysis, that will improve your knowledge of the industry and serve as a resource for your employer.
2. Ask for Advice – Your employer isn’t expecting you to know it all, so if you have a question or need clarification, go ahead and ask for it. Not only will you deliver better quality work, but you’ll also demonstrate putting thought into your assignments. Don’t hesitate to ask questions — and not just ones about how to use the company intranet. Your coworkers have vast experience from which you can learn. Working in the wrong industry? Recruitment is a pertinent part of any job. HR can be particularly helpful with career advice and resume tips. Don’t end any internship without asking what recruiters look for in a potential new hire.
3. Gather Resources — Even if you’re in a different field, an internship is a great way to build your professional tool kit. Take note of programs, applications and best practices that you can leverage down the road.
4. Take a Genuine Interest in Your Coworkers — A LinkedIn connection is only as good as your actual relationship. Strike a balance between being professional and personal. This might look like eating lunch with your coworkers, playing on the company kickball team or just asking about the framed photograph of the beautiful, bouncing baby on your boss’s desk.
5. Reflect on your experience — Since an internship is essentially a dry run in a position, it can teach you a lot about what you’re looking for in a career. Take time to think about what you’ve enjoyed and what you wish had gone differently. Were you exhilarated by the fast pace of agency life or did the unstructured work environment stress you out? Doing some self-reflection will help you find the best career fit in the future.
- Written by Lauren Pollack. Lauren is a junior at Northwestern University. She is a dean's list student and winner of CADMEF's Alan Drey Memorial Scholarship.