Beginning your first internship can be intimidating, but it’s crucial for your professional growth. Internships can offer an opportunity for learning and growth outside of the classroom before beginning your first full-time job.
Our interns, Drue and Tylee, are totally crushing their internships at 8THIRTYFOUR, so we asked them to share some advice – here is what this dynamic duo had to say:
Tip 1: Ask questions and take notes
As soon as your supervisor assigns you tasks, think about what questions you may have and ask them right away. Whenever you’re given information, always write it down. No matter how small or big the details may seem, write it down so you don’t forget or confuse yourself later. Most importantly, you should never have to ask the same question twice. When an intern asks the same question a second time because they didn’t write it down, it wastes time.
Extra credit: You can take notes on a pad of paper or on your phone, as long as you have the information somewhere. Never go to your supervisor empty handed asking for details.
Tip 2: Search for answers before asking questions
They say there is no such thing as a dumb question – I disagree. Ask questions, just make sure they’re not questions that you can look up on Google! At another job, a supervisor asked me to write a media alert. Before asking her what a media alert was, I searched our company’s shared drive and Google, gave it my best attempt and then asked her to proof it. She never knew that I didn’t know how to write one and she never found out. Be a problem solver and search for answers before asking questions.
Extra credit: Know when to throw in the towel. Do your best to find the answer, but don’t waste so much time that you get behind – or worse, miss a deadline.
Tip 3: Build your network
Don’t just show up, do your work, and clock out. Invest in your coworkers! You are surrounded by successful professionals who were all in the same place as you at one point, so don’t be afraid to seek out their mentorship. Ask them about their career, how they got where they are now, maybe even offer to take them out for a drink after hours in exchange for some career advice. Building your network is key to making the most of an internship.
Extra credit: Be bold and share your career goals with everyone you meet. You never know if the person you’re talking to has a second cousin that happens to be the CEO of the company you’re dreaming to work for! Networking is a chain reaction.
Tip 4: Invest in the work culture
If you’re going to grab more coffee from the kitchen, ask the people around you if they need more too. If you see that the trash is overflowing, just take it out yourself. If you appreciated a conversation with a certain coworker, write them a thank you card. Focus on exemplifying the core values of the company, and go above and beyond by contributing to the workplace culture.
Extra credit: Look for new ways to bring culture to life. Print the company’s values and hang them in your space as a visual reminder, invite colleagues to an event that aligns with the organization’s cornerstones, or get a tattoo of the mission statement (kidding!).
Tip 5: Prove you care about your professional growth
The big picture goal of your internship is to develop your professional skills so that when you finally land a full-time job you have the knowledge and experience to succeed. Every company is different when it comes to feedback; make sure you understand this part of the process. If it isn’t clear, ask early in your time with the organization.
Extra credit: If your supervisor doesn’t have regular evaluations scheduled throughout your internship, ask to schedule them. Remember that your boss has work to do too, so be respectful of their availability. You may crave constant feedback, but that might not be your manager’s style, or the company’s policy.