How to carry out a successful internship

Internships are a perfect way to test the waters of the business world, get college credit, or even kickstart your career. Even if you’re only hired for a few months, it’s your time to get noticed and make yourself the best of interns and we know how – here’s our guide to running an internship successfully, in 12 steps.

1. LUNCH, LUNCH AND LUNCH

Lunch is the ideal time to learn more about your colleagues and to meet new people, i.e. socialize between a sandwich and a salad: maybe a department needs help with a project, someone looking for a member for the after-work soccer team or a collaborator is just as passionate as you are about Game of Thrones – there are many things you can discover during your lunch break.

2. BE KIND

Be kind and polite to everyone, have a conversation but stay away from gossip. You never know who in the company will be able to help you with a project or even a job and the more you like it, the easier it will be to ask for help, contacts or recommendations, priceless tools for every career.

3. DON’T BE DISORDERED

As an intern, you are neither waiters nor cleaners (unless you’ve been hired for it), but do your part to make the office a liveable place: put paper in the printer, wash your dishes and keep your desk tidy and clean. In short: act as if your mother is watching you.

4. GET LOTS OF FEEDBACK

There’s no need to schedule weekly meetings to talk about how you’re doing, but don’t wait until the last day either. Feedback will help you learn, improve and get the most out of your internship. While it’s not always pleasant, knowing how to handle criticism in the right way is a very important skill.

5. ASK QUESTIONS

Be curious and ask questions to learn all the details of the activity: you only have a few months to assimilate as much information as you can. However, make sure you have good timing for your question and answer sessions so that others can get their work done. Many people are also more than happy to take the time to “gather ideas”, a great opportunity to spend time alone and get answers to all your questions over coffee.

6. DON’T PANIC ABOUT LITTLE THINGS

Being an intern sometimes means you have to do things that may not be so fun. However, if you do them well, better tasks will probably await you. See it as a learning process and don’t complain, especially with co-workers and superiors. Often, you have to prove who you are and complete small tasks as tests before moving on to more important and better things.

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7. BE PROACTIVE

Do you think the company needs a Twitter account or have you found a way to save by using a different card provider? Supervisors usually appreciate people who show initiative and come up with good ideas for saving or earning more, so it might be the perfect time to prove your worth. Don’t flood them with random ideas anyway, but focus on the best and impress them with your knowledge (and maybe a few numbers and a project).

8. DON’T BE TOO ZEALOUS

Despite what I just said, don’t be too zealous. Don’t continually seek approval and praise, don’t talk to people just because your purpose is networking, and don’t ask for a permanent position after the first week. And you shouldn’t criticize everything or try to change existing processes right away unless that’s what you were hired for.

9. BE ORGANIZED AND ON TIME

Don’t be late for work or meetings. Arriving a few minutes early is a great and easy way to make a good impression. Always be prepared and don’t go over deadlines: if you know you won’t be able to finish on time, ask for an extension. Being organized and staying on time are important skills for a successful career.

10. HAVE A PROFESSIONAL LOOK

Try to read up on the dress code before starting your internship and follow it. Even if there are no guidelines, observe what other people are wearing and dress accordingly. Your look reflects your attitude and the more professional, the better.

11. USE THE BREAKS

There may be times when the pace slows down, so take the opportunity to ask for work to do or suggest your own project, if you find something useful. Make sure you always have your supervisor’s approval for spending time working on things that aren’t part of the job – being open and honest is better than hiding breaks and risking getting caught sending snapchats to your friends.

12. AND DON’T FORGET TO SOCIALIZE

Sometimes, departments organize weekend activities, such as volunteering, hiking or sports. Sign up, it’s a perfect way to make friends and get to know your colleagues. If you’re relocating for an internship, your colleagues are the best source for finding the best gym, bar and party.

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