Career Planning

10 Ways to Stand Out at Your Internship

Elizabeth Hoyt

June 17, 2018

10 Ways to Stand Out at Your Internship
How do you ensure that you make your mark and become the intern that shines?
While taking on an internship, it’s easy to blend into the background. Mundane tasks aside, many interns face the unique challenge of maintaining a memorable presence to their employers. After all, the whole point of the internship is to gain job experience and to try to gain some contacts within one’s given field, which will hopefully lead to some eventual job prospects. This, however, only happens if an intern makes a positive memorable impression.
So, how do you ensure that you make your mark and become the intern that stands out? Read on to discover the following ten ways you can work to make a lasting impression during your summer internship.
1. Arrived prepared and continue to prep, as if it’s one of your courses
Before you begin your internship, show initiative by contacting your boss and asking if there’s anything you can do to prepare for your first day. Instead of just showing up the first day, unprepared, reach out. There may be a project you can begin to work on, start to research or skills you may be able to brush up on. Taking initiative will show your new boss you are an intern that takes your new position seriously and that you’re willing to go the extra mile.
2. Get to know your boss – and their work style
Every boss has a specific work style and flow. It’s important to get to know your new boss and the way they work in order to anticipate their needs. That way, you will be able to better assist with project demands and position yourself as an invaluable asset to the team from the beginning of your internship.
3. Ensure you know the internship description and that it’s being followed
Many interns complain that their internships don’t turn out to be all that they had hoped – or had been led to believe. However, it’s up to you to do research before taking the position.
If a position’s description sounds great and you decide on an internship because of it, it’s up to you to ensure that your internship follows the job description. Sure, you may have to take on a few simple tasks occasionally, but if you find yourself only stuck in an internship rut, have an honest and open discussion with your boss about your original job description. You have to advocate for yourself because nobody else is going to do it for you!
4. Communicate by asking for what you want – before, during and after the internship
Negotiate your needs in terms of hours, learning goals and pay (if applicable) before you even begin your internship so you’re on that same page with your employer. Touch base as your internship progresses, ensuring that your needs are being met and addressing any concerns that arise. At the end of your internship, review what you’ve learned, how much time you’ve spent working and any potential learning opportunities you’d still like to pursue within the company.
5. Go above and beyond, filling in the gaps with your own research and common sense
One of the main issues employers complain about with interns and employees, for that matter, is that they aren’t able to take on assigned tasks and fill in the necessary gaps in direction. Instead of running back to your boss with questions about every minute detail on a project you’re assigned, use your unique skill set to research independently and figure out the details on your own. Your boss will appreciate your efforts and the lack of interruption within their busy day.
6. Get to know the staff
Just because you’re an intern doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to know everyone at the job. In fact, it means you should get to know everyone. Talk to everyone that works at the company – both in and out of your department. Making connections is vital to networking and you never know who knows someone. It’s also a great way to make yourself memorable at that particular internship. When people at the company in different departments know and recognize you, you become a part of their workforce.
7. When your tasks are complete, ask for more
Once your daily task list is complete, don’t just sit around or goof off! Ask for more projects - what else can you can do to serve the needs of the company? Showing that you have completed tasks is great. Showing that you’re ready to tackle more is even better.
8. Stay ahead of your boss by predicting needs before you’re asked
One sign of a great worker is anticipating needs before they are needs. If you know something is coming down the pipeline and it’s your responsibility to prepare, start on it before you’re even asked to do so. It’s a surefire way to impress your boss and coworkers. Just ensure you don’t step on any toes by taking on someone else’s tasks. That makes you look good and another coworker look bad, which is a surefire way to becoming the intern that nobody likes.
9. Don’t act like an intern – become part of the team
Rather than “acting like an intern” and merely taking tasks given to you, completing them and calling it a day, work on them like it’s your actual job. Treat your internship like it’s your permanent job and you’re part of the team. After all, for the time you are working there, you are a part of the team.
10. Take all of your tasks – no matter how small - seriously
As simple or mundane internship tasks can be, they all serve a purpose. Everyone must pay dues and start out somewhere. Take on tasks, no matter how small, with pride and diligence and avoid complaints at all costs. Your employers will notice if you take work seriously and do your work well and, most likely, the smaller tasks will lead to larger ones. It makes sense: if your boss can’t trust you to make the coffee right, how could they trust you with a huge project task? So, as a rule, take on all tasks seriously and perform them well. You will be moving up the ladder in no time!

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