Succeeding at your internship can help you discover a career path, build skills, and potentially become employed at a company full-time. But it can also go south pretty quick.
What makes the difference? Seeing your internship as an interview.
Understand that the entire internship is an interview for a full-time position and you are continuously being evaluated in and outside of the office.
So what does always being in an interview mean? It means that you have to be mindful of how you present yourself to the people around you.
This goes far beyond common courtesy like being punctual or saying thank you. It’s more about carrying yourself according to the position you want, and the person you wish to become.
Make sure to use every interaction with your co-workers and supervisor to showcase how you handle things.
For instance, when you go to an event with other colleagues, engage, and do not just sit in a corner or spend the entire time huddled around other interns.
When you go to a happy hour, don’t drink. Controversial statement, right? But the truth is, you are going to have plenty of time to turn up, but remember this is an interview and you don’t drink at interviews, the last time I checked. It would be wiser and smarter to not drink, so that you are always aware of your surroundings, what’s happening and so that you’re present.
Different organizations have different expectations regarding employee behavior, but in general terms, you want to be appropriate, hard-working, and motivated.
Understand your interactions are being evaluated at all times and act accordingly.
Here are 5 practical ways to do so.
Building meaningful relationships with people in the company and integrating yourself in their work culture is the best way to show them what you’re made of.
Take advantage of working with smart and motivated people by learning from them as much as possible. You never know where networking is going to take you!
Companies are assessing your fit within the organization—do people like you? Are you easy to work with? Do you have an attitude that makes the environment better?
You want to add to the positive work culture to earn respect and sympathy.
Regardless of what you’re doing on your internship, you are in a service role.
Even if you’re asked to pick up coffee, keep in mind that this is just a step along the way and you’ll get the chance to do greater things and prove your value if you’re considered reliable on every task.
Set a goal of being helpful without creating too much work for the full-time employees. Meaning, it’s OK to ask for help and clarification, however, your boss will likely be very busy and you’ll have to adapt to its circumstances to be supportive.
When you’re doing an internship you are not expected to know what is going on right away, but the faster you learn how things are done, the better.
If you arm yourself with knowledge about the industry, company, processes, and your specific tasks, you’ll be able to recognize the potential in situations and bring something meaningful to the table.
Be Present in meetings
Just by being present in meetings, you’ll learn a great deal about the corporate world and the ins and outs of the job.
Besides, if you’re in meetings and interact, you’ll have the best chance of being noticed by decision-makers.
If they ask you a question, be confident, they don’t expect you to have the perfect answer. Rather, they want to see how you tackle it.
The best way to add true value to an organization is by putting your strengths and skillsets at the service of the common good.
How you do the work is as important as the work you present. If you overanalyze your plans, you won’t take action. Allow yourself to start moving after you think things through, to achieve your goals.
Whether it is a small organization or a bigger company, new people bring with them new perspectives. Don’t shy away from taking advantage of this long interview to create a lasting impression.