More than fetching coffee: eight tips for a successful internship
As many of us know first hand, internships can be a great way to gain real-world experience while figuring out what-in-the-heck you want to do with your life and where you want to take your career.
It all starts with the interview and, believe me, I’ve had my fair share of them – most of us have! It’s important to begin by saying it’s completely normal to feel nervous, excited, intimidated and a little sick to your stomach. But remember: we’ve all been there.
We’ve been looking for interns to join The Frameworks for the summer – and the process got me thinking about what advice I could give these exciting young professionals who have made their way to our door in recent weeks. Here are a few tips to remember during your interview and internship in order to make the most of the experience:
1. Confidence is key
Now that I’ve been on the other side of an interview, I realize how easy it is to tell how nervous someone is. Don’t get me wrong: some nervousness can be a good thing – it shows that you want to make a good impression and that you care. But it can also distract the interviewer from your true personality. So be confident (but not cocky) and relax!
2. Do your research
Ever hear the saying “a little bit goes a long way”? It rings true in an interview. Research the company and make sure you understand what it does – show that you know a bit about what the business has been up to recently, like big wins or something that sticks out as interesting or appealing. This is a great way to connect with your potential employer and coworkers.
3. Don’t let inexperience discourage you
You’re looking for an internship for a reason, right? You want to gain experience. Don’t be discouraged if this is an interview for your first internship. Everyone has to start somewhere. Focus on the experience you’ve gained in your classes and connect it to real life. Be clear about what you’re hoping to learn from an internship and relay that to your interviewer.
Now you’ve nailed the interview and that internship is yours (remember, confidence!), take advantage of every opportunity you can. During my first internship (I had four), I was intimidated and lost. I learned these things very quickly:
4. Ask questions
No one is expecting you to know everything, so ask lots of questions. You’re there because you want to learn about the company and the industry in which it operates. Sure everyone is busy, but they’ll be happy to help you and walk through things. They’ve probably been in your shoes before.
5. You’re going to make mistakes…
And that’s okay. Sometimes we learn more from the things that go wrong than when everything goes our way. Take every error and make it a learning experience. Chances are, you won’t want to make that mistake again and will remember it the next time.
6. Don’t miss out
If you’re offered a chance to sit in on important meetings, run through mock scenarios of the real job, whatever it may be – go for it. Don’t let any opportunities pass you by. This is what will build your résumé for future opportunities and jobs. You’ll take away some real life experience that will set you apart.
7. Make sure you network
Make friends and connections during your internship. These are the people who will vouch for you in the future and connect you to potential employers. Whether you’re showing off the latest and greatest gadget or catching up on last night’s Game of Thrones, network with your coworkers. Just because you may be the rookie, doesn’t mean you can’t teach them a thing or two.
8. And finally: enjoy it!
Take your internship seriously but don’t get so stressed that you can’t have fun. Soak up the experience and learn everything you can. Who knows – you might even be offered a full-time position.
Internships are at the very least invaluable experience – and at best, they can act as a springboard that launches your career.
Now, go out there and get that foot in the door – I’m rooting for you!
Emily has left The Frameworks.