Top 10 Internship Tips
- Exhibit a Can-Do Attitude
Pass the attitude test and you will be well on your way to success. Attitude speaks loud and clear and makes a lasting impression, so make sure that yours is one of your greatest assets. Take on any task assigned no matter how small with enthusiasm. Take the initiative to acquire new skills. Accept criticism graciously and maintain a sense of humor. Even if early in your internship you determine that this is not the career path you would like to pursue upon graduation, the experience that you have during this internship will benefit you tremendously.
- Learn the Unwritten Rules
Get to know your co-workers early in your internship. They will help you to quickly learn the culture in which you will be working. Being the "new kid" is like being a freshman all over again. You will need to adapt, observe, learn and process a large volume of information.Ask questions and pay attention to how people interact with each other.
- Take Your Assignments Seriously
Build a reputation for being conscientious and dependable. Be diligent and accurate in your work. You may encounter a great deal of ambiguity in the work environment, so seek direction when in doubt and do whatever it takes to get the job done. As an intern, you will generally start out by performing small tasks, asking a lot of questions and learning the systems. Your internship supervisor knows that there will be an initial learning curve and will make allowances for mistakes. Learn from your errors and move on to your next task. Your responsibilities and the expectations of others will grow.
- Meet Deadlines
Always assume the responsibility to ask when an assignment is due. This will help you to understand your supervisor's priorities and manage your time accordingly. Alert your boss in advance if you will be unable to meet expectations. This will show respect and professional maturity.
- Set Realistic Goals and Expectations
Invest actively in the most critical element of your internship: the learning agenda that you set up with your supervisor at the beginning of the assignment. Ask for a detailed description of the internship before you agree to accept the position, and ask specific questions about what you'll be doing and learning.
- Communicate Effectively & Respectfully
Assume that everyone else knows more than you do. However, don't be afraid to present useful ideas that may save time or money or solve problems. Make sure, however, that your style does not come across as cocky. Employers value assertiveness but not aggressiveness. Find out the proper way to address individuals, including customers. Maintain a pleasant and respectful demeanor with every person, regardless of his or her rank. Always "ask" rather than "tell."
- Be Flexible
Accept a wide variety of tasks, even those that may not relate directly to your assignments or those that may seem like grunt work. Your willingness to go the extra mile, especially during "crunch time," will help you carve the way to assuming greater responsibilities.
- Be a Team Player
Learn how your assignment fits into the grand scheme of things and keep a keen eye on getting the job done. In today's work environment, success is often defined along the lines of your ability to get along with and interact with others. You're a winner only if your team wins.
- Get a Mentor
Identify at least one individual to serve as your mentor or professional guardian. It should be someone who is willing to take a personal interest in your career development and success. Once you know your way around, begin to network wisely and get "plugged in" by associating with seasoned employees who may share their knowledge, perspectives, and insights. Get noticed, because many more people will have a role in determining your future than you might at first realize. Check with GAMP (Gonzaga Alumni Mentoring Program) to find a mentor.
- Have Fun!
Last but not least, enjoy learning, sharpening your skills and developing professionally and personally. Participate in work-related social functions and become an active member in your work community. And while it's important to bond with your work community, it's also important to keep it professional. If you are not of age to drink alcohol, be responsible enough to say "No." And while things generally loosen up at a company social event it's not an open invitation for you to forget your manners and professional etiquette. Think and act smart as your behavior at work can affect your professional reputation and follow you throughout your career.