Are you on the cusp of starting a new internship? If so, then congratulations—this can be an amazing opportunity for self-discovery and an important step in your lifelong career journey. Simply put, internships are great ways to explore your professional strengths and weaknesses, and can help you target your interests and passions—hopefully helping to guide you onto the career path that best suits you.
That said, not all internships—or interns—are created equal. While some make every effort to put their best self forward and approach the internship as if it were an ultra-important full-time job, others take a less serious approach—and take a guess which type of intern typically fares better? That said, how have you decided to approach your upcoming internship? If you’re smart, you’ll prepare yourself in advance as much as possible in an effort to make a great impression. Who knows—if you really nail it, you just may find yourself weighing a great new job offer at the end of it!
Consider using the following plan of attack to help ensure that your internship starts off strong.
Do your homework
Before your first day at your new internship, make sure you know everything there is to know about the company you’re about to join. Most companies these days have a robust online presence, so take advantage of available information online. Not only will it help you do your job more effectively, it will likely impress the folks you’ll be working around. It may even serve as a springboard for bold new ideas that you can use to wow your new boss—and who knows what can happen from there?
Also do your best to be fully aware of what your role in the organization will be, what will be expected of you from day one, and what your team or department does within the broader context of the organization (ideally, you used the interview process to have all of these questions answered). This will help reduce any awkward surprises on day one of your internship, and also set you up to impress your new bosses when you’re able to hit the ground running when you first arrive.
As mentioned before, internships are a great way to learn about your strengths and weaknesses and discover what you’re interested in and good at. That said, you already know a great deal about yourself and can use what you know to your advantage at your new position. Make sure your strengths are on full display while at work. Are you a whiz at spreadsheets? Then do your best to set yourself up to work on any spreadsheets that your department utilizes. Have countless presentations in class made you a PowerPoint pro? Then volunteer to work on any PowerPoints that you discover are being worked on while at your internship. Not only will you come across as a team player who’s willing to go the extra mile, you’ll hopefully impress others with your abilities.
In contrast, try to work on building your skills in your week areas subtly while at your internship. Take small opportunities to test yourself and confront new challenges—before long you’ll be more well-rounded and capable at work than ever before!
This one often gets overlooked by interns, and they wind up paying the price when they arrive at work and aren’t completely ready. Get into a professional mindset before your internship starts and you’ll be setting yourself up for success. This includes getting an appropriate work wardrobe ready, practicing your workplace etiquette (here’s where a parent, mentor, or experienced friend or family member can really help), getting any supplies you might need, and even practicing getting up early for several days beforehand—you’ll be surprised by how a little advance planning to get yourself into professional mode can really benefit you in the long run.
If you’re on the cusp of starting a new internship, it can be a really exciting time—as long as you prepare smartly. Use the strategies and advice presented here to be your best starting on day one. Soak it in—this is the time for you to explore a profession or a company to see if it’s a great match. Use it wisely!