Making the right impression at an internship is super important. The wrong impression could seal your fate and future hopes of a job offer from that company. Even if you don’t think you want to work there after you graduate, you want to impress the right people so you can walk away with great references and maybe even a mentor.
Jump Right Into Your Work
You only have a 6-12 weeks at your internship to learn and do as much as you can. When you get a new assignment, ask questions to make sure you understand the project and deadlines. If you find yourself with down time, that is the perfect opportunity to ask for more work. If your manager doesn’t have additional work for you, ask if you can check with another person in the office. Jump in feet first and immerese yourself in your internship experience.
On another note, if you are flying through your assignments, make sure you are double cheking your work for accuracy. By doing good work and not just fast work, you will gain the trust of your manager and ideally be given tasks with more responsibility.
Dress for success
If your wardrobe and your cash is limited, it is time to hit up the thrift store to score some deals. Young ladies and gentleman, black slacks or dress pants, a white button down dress shirt/blouse and a dark blazer or suit jacket can go very far. While you are at it, go ahead and look for a nice breifcase or laptop bag, time to ditch the bookbag.
Part of being well dressed also means taking the time to iron your clothes, shine your shoes and check your pantyhose for runs. Also, don’t go overboard with the aftershave or perfume.
Proper meeting etiquette
Being on time for meetings is important, but also arrive prepared. Never walk into a meeting without a pen and paper to take notes. Even if you never write anything down, take the pen and paper with you. Don’t try and take notes on your cell phone. Even if you have super will power and won’t be tempted to update your social media status or return a text duuring the slower part of the meeting, the other people don’t know what you are doing. You want to appear to be locked in and attentive. If you need your phone to keep track of time, go buy a watch. If you intend to keep your phone in your pocket or purse, turn it off during the meeting.
Practice your networking skills
Introduce yourself to everyone. Be friendly. Take your smile with you everywhere go. When you meet people, sometimes you will have the opportunity to go into your full-blown elevator pitch and sometimes not – don’t force it. If you are in the coffee line and you notice a person wearing a hat of a sports team you like, make a comment about the team, or if you are in the elevator and you love the shoes someone is wearing, tell them you love their shoes and strike up a conversation. During the course of the conversation, tell them your name and what department you are interning in. Don’t be discouraged if it takes some practice to get over your nerves.
As an intern you are there to contribute, learn and grow. No one is perfect. There will be times when you get negative feedback on a project. Don’t take it to heart as criticism but embrace it as a learning opportunity. Ask questions so that you can learn from your mistakes and what you can do better the next time.
Jumping into your internship with positive energy and enthusiasm will get you noticed. Making the right and lasting impression could mean that when there is a job opening, you are the one to get the call.
Get a complete break down on how to be a rock star intern in my book, The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams.
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