6 Ways to Make the Most out of Your Internship
While landing an internship is a victory, what happens once you have one is the most important part. A good boss will mentor and teach you, but there are certain things that you must take into your own hands to ensure that you are making the most of your internship. Here are six useful tips to apply:
- Set goals. At the beginning of your internship, set goals for what you want to accomplish. These can include both the goals you are expected to meet as well as your personal goals. Make sure these are written down and that you revisit them throughout the internship to ensure you are making progress on your goals. If your boss can work with you on this, it would be great, but if not you can offer to share them with her/him. Here is a guide to creating SMART goals.
- Don't limit yourself to the internship description. You are there to learn and grow so take every opportunity you can to help with additional projects both within and outside your department. The additional projects will not only help you grow as a professional, but will also benefit the company making you a valuable resource. Also you may find that you enjoy doing other types of work that you had never considered before.
- Make connections with people throughout the company and maintain these after your internship. Schedule meetings or lunches with employees inside and outside your department. Use the time to pick their brain on things like what they do, what tips they have for you, and how they got to where they are. This will help you make connections within the company, while providing you with valuable insights into different departments. If you really connect with someone, consider asking them to be your mentor.
- Understand the “why” behind the projects you are helping with. Every project or task should fit into a larger plan, and if you understand what that plan is, you will find more value in the work you do. For example, if you work in the marketing department, ask your boss to walk you through that year's marketing plan. Even repetitive projects support a larger purpose so understanding that purpose will help you think big picture instead of task-to-task.
- Present new ideas. Yes, you are an intern but that doesn't mean that you don't have good ideas. If you have an idea for a better way to do something or a new tool you think the company should try, then bring it up to your boss. Of course, make sure you present it in an appropriate manner. Even if they don't move forward with your idea, it will help show that you are strategic and invested in the company.
- Ask for a performance review. Some companies, like Red Door Interactive, have performance reviews with their interns. If the company you intern for doesn't do this, ask for one. It's important to know what you do well and what you can improve on.
With each internship, you have the opportunity to gain valuable experience and make connections. While people are there to lend support, remember--you are ultimately the owner of your success.
Written by Chelsea Bakewell, marketing manager at Red Door Interactive.