Ahhh college, where free work is not only common, but more than likely your only chance to climb that success ladder. Whether the internship is part of your degree, or you're doing it to spice up your CV, there are some simple tips and tricks to ensure you get a good reference. And who knows, there might even be a possible job at the end of the unpaid tunnel. Here's how to wow during your internship:
1) Research The Company
Showing up on day one and already knowing a substantial amount about the company is very impressive. It shows your interest in the company and your willingness to join. If you show up with no background knowledge, you'll seem lazy and not committed; not good.
2) Always Be Early
Even if it's only 10 minutes, ensure you're ready to work when you're supposed to be, as opposed to only coming in at that time. This shows your boss that you're organised (even if you're not really) and you take the job seriously. Both of which are very important when it comes to a good reference.
3) Leave When You're Done, Not When The Day Is Done
Just because your hours are 9-5, doesn't mean you can drop all your work in a "f*ck this sh*t' manner once it hits home time. Do you still have work to do? Then get it done. Even if everyone else is leaving, it doesn't mean you have to as well. Stay behind that extra couple of minutes and get your work done. Trust me, your boss will take note. And if they're not there, someone else will.
4) Don't Act Like You Know Everything
You might be sitting there thinking "I already know how to do this, I'm not an idiot" as your supervisor shows you how to use a spreadsheet, but it's best to keep these thoughts to yourself. Nod graciously and thank them for taking the time to show you. You might want to remind them how much you actually know, but saying it isn't the way to do it. Show them instead. To them, you're a newbie and they have no idea what you do or do not know. They'll figure out in time how capable you are and be impressed to boot.
5) Plan What You're Going To Say
Okay so you can't plan every single conversation you'll have, but you can plan the common ones such as your interests, hobbies etc. Be careful what you say; talking about how you were downing Jager Bombs last night doesn't exactly scream professionalism. What you tell your colleagues about yourself will stand to you, and it's their only way of getting any indication as to what you're like as a person and worker, so think before you speak.
6) Make Friends.
Now I don't mean being overly friendly and discussing non-work appropriate topics, but you need to make an attempt to be friendly with the other team members. People who are liked will be the first ones to be hired, and you'll be surprised at the say employees have in who gets hired.
7) Dress The Part
No matter what the other employees wear, always ensure that you follow the dress code. They've probably been there a long time and can get away with slacking, appearance wise; you on the other hand, are still trying to impress. While appearances are most definitely not everything, it's important to show that you care about your internship. After all, you are representing their company at the end of the day.
8) Be Proactive
So you've finished the task your boss gave you, what now? Sit there and twiddle your thumbs? I don't think so. Use your initiative and what you've been taught so far and get to work. You should reach a stage in your internship where they don't even need to tell you what to do next, you should know what to do. Internships are almost like trial runs, testing you to see how well you'd do as a full-time employee. No one is going to hire the intern who needs to be spoon-fed constantly, believe me.
9) Put Your Phone Away
Unless you're interning for a chilled out or social media orientated company, chances are you being on your phone constantly will not go down well. Put your phone away. Even if it's only lying on the table and you're not using it, it looks bad and will only be tempting. Putting your phone away will show that you mean business and are focused too.
10) Stay Positive And Work Your Butt Off
I know how hard it is to stay positive when you've been working insane hours and can't even remember your last day off, but you need to keep reminding yourself why you're doing this internship. Your boss understands how tough interns have it - crazy hours, no day off due to part time jobs, little or no pay - what matters to them is how you react to all this. If you stay positive and enthusiastic even though you're dead on the inside, your boss will be impressed at how well you're taking the stress and hecticness. You need to remember that you're doing this internship for no one else but you. Work your butt off and you'll be rewarded in due course, I promise!