It’s officially summer, which means summer internships are in full swing.
Internships are a fantastic way to put the skills you’ve learned in the classroom into good use. If you’ve managed to bag yourself one of these coveted roles for your industry, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back! There are so many benefits to taking on an internship, such as boosting your CV, giving you the chance to make professional connections, and potentially laying the foundations down for an amazing graduate job in the future.
An internship is your best chance to get the foot firmly in the door of your dream career, which means you’re going to want to do everything in your power to make it count. It can be an extremely daunting process, especially as it’s likely to be your first real experience of a professional environment.
If you’re starting to break out in a nervous sweat, take a deep breath and read on for our top tips for surviving your summer internship.
1. Set goals.
Before your internship starts, be sure to sit down and do some pre-planning. Set yourself a list of (achievable) goals and figure out what it is you are hoping to get out of the experience. This will really help you to be honest with yourself about why you are there – is it to see what it is like to work in the industry? Is it to network? Or are you just there to make some money over the summer? Setting these goals will help you to reign in your focus and productivity throughout your internship.
2. Remember that your colleagues will be just as nervous as you are.
It’s very likely that your new colleagues are going to be just as nervous to meet you as you are to meet them, especially if you are interning in a small company. After all, it’s human nature to feel nervous about meeting new people. Make the effort to get to know them and learn from them, as it will speak volumes to how passionate you are about the company and your industry. Being in a professional environment is a fantastic opportunity to network, so don’t be shy.
3. Be optimistic and enthusiastic.
If you want to get the most out of your internship, you’re going to have to approach each and every task with optimism and enthusiasm. Yep, that includes the tedious ones. You might be asked to take on a big project, or you might be asked to get coffee, make photo-copies or do other menial work. It’s important to show passion for the job, no matter how big or small the task. With such a positive attitude, your manager will begin to put their trust in you and may remember your name for the bigger projects down the line.
4. Treat it like a real job.
If you want to survive your summer internship AND make a lasting impression, here’s the secret no-one tells you: don’t treat it like an internship. Seriously. If you want to be taken seriously, you must treat the job as if it were a real, full-time position. After all, you are in a professional environment and it is important to understand that your contributions will have an affect on other people – therefore, your mistakes will too.
5. If you are unsure, ask.
During your internship, you’ll likely find yourself unsure about how to do something once or twice (or about 90% of the time). If you are unsure about something, don’t hesitate to ask. Your manager will be more than willing to take the time to explain something in detail to avoid mistakes being made. Just be sure to listen carefully when a process is being explained – you don’t want to be the person to make your manager explain themselves repeatedly.
6. Be your best (professional) self.
If you’re feeling particularly nervous about the opportunity, don’t hesitate to remind yourself that out of the tens and hundreds of candidates that applied for the internship, you are the one who landed the coveted role. Allow your professional personality, skills and qualities to shine because at the end of the day, that is why you are there.
At the end of your summer internship, you might find that it does not automatically imply a full-time job offer, but don’t be afraid to ask about future positions that may be available by the time you graduate. You might even learn that working in your dream industry isn’t so dreamy after all – but at least you survived and got the experience under your belt.
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