Internship season is upon us. From engineering to marketing to art to research, a lot of students will get the chance to work with amazing companies and take steps to discovering their ~professional~ calling. It can be intimidating to be the youngest in the office or the most novice on the job. As I gear up for my own summer adventure, I want to share some tips I’ve learned on how to leave your mark on your summer position and get the most out of your experience.
1. Ask Questions
It’s perfectly normal not to know things in a new position. It can be frustrating to feel behind or unprepared, but by being proactive and asking about what you don’t understand, you can come away with more than just you’re already comfortable with. Whether it’s an informational interview to learn more about a colleague’s career path or asking for help on a project because you can’t figure out where to start, being curious can be your fastest route to success. Just make sure your questions are purposeful and not easily answered by Google!
2. Become An Office Journaler
One of my favorite ways to track internship accomplishments is by keeping an active journal of what you’re working on, what the feedback you’re receiving on it is, and what the outcomes are. This way, in both meetings with your managers and on your resume post-position, you can easily speak to your experience. Bonus points for asking your manager for some metrics on your projects towards the end of the summer. Think big numbers, actions, and outcomes.
3. Speak the Lingo + Know the News
For a lot of careers, there are specific terms that are key to understanding. In marketing, I’ve found that knowing the lingo to talk about different types of business goals in relation to social media (ex: awareness, engagement, reach) can make or break how a professional sees my credibility. You can keep your Intern-Cred in tiptop shape by utilizing your BFF, @theinternet, to get a step up and a better understanding of the scene you’re walking into. Similarly, staying on top of the news in your general industry is important, too. I live on my Feedly board for SEO, social media, fast-casual, and hospitality news updates. Okay, and I have a board for celebrity and reality TV news, but that’s not internship-success related, so hush.
4. Show A Little Co-Worker Lovin’
Networking is such a huge benefit of working at a company. Make an effort to form connections with your co-workers that are genuine. This feels super duper obvious and stupid to say, BUT BE NICE TO EVERYONE. You never know who will become who in the game of promotions, CEOs, and future jobs. If you’re like me and your memory is already in the garbage like last week’s Sweetgreen salad, keep a notebook where you jot down notes post-peer conversations. It may feel silly but Sandy, your imaginary cubicle buddy, will appreciate if you remember her daughter’s name or her love of Pinterest.
5. Going Old School– Pen and Paper
It’s so easy to depend on technology as your communication and note-taking tool. When in meetings, it’s best practice to trade your tech for a journal and blue, or black, pen to demonstrate your concentration vibes. A meeting is a great opportunity to channel your inner adulting and earn brownie-points from your co-workers. As an intern, most teams won’t expect you to have a huge input in the conversation, but if you are going to speak up in a meeting, make sure to add value with your comments. In the words of my mom, a trusty real-life-working-woman, “don’t just talk to talk.” At my last summer internship, I tended to use meetings as a chance to take note of things I didn’t know, didn’t understand, or wanted to learn more about. Then I would ask my manager about them post-meeting.
No matter where you work, what you do, or what resume bullets you come away with, there’s, undoubtedly, something to learn in every experience. But, by leaving your mark on your summer position, you can open up doors to the next big thing. It’s all about creating connections, seeing the value in every project, and giving your all to take the most away.
I guess all that’s left to say is happy interning!
Stuck in my head: Swim // Fickle Friends
Snap it: Seyou (BAKERY HEAVEN), Washington DC