Internships are more and more becoming the norm in a job hunt, as they’re seen as an integral part of the job application experience. It gives hiring managers a chance to test drive you and see how you’d fit into the company as a whole, while you get valuable experience to put on your resume so you can leverage it into a satisfying career. However, just getting an internship isn’t a guarantee that a job offer will be waiting at the end of it, as you’ll have to work your tail off to beat out all the other interns there for a test drive. With such stiff competition out there, it can be tough to make sense of just how to do this, but we’ve put together the definitive guide that, if followed, is sure to get you noticed and remembered.
Show Up On Time
The first impression you make will be, for better or for worse, the most lasting one. Sure, you can possibly get away with a poor impression and then work your butt off every day for the next X weeks, but there’s no guarantee of that. It’s best to find your stride right off the bat and stick to it, slowly working your way up in intensity and quality as you go on.
One of the biggest ways you can do this is to just show up on time each morning as though it were always your first day. People understand when there are emergencies that prevent you from being 10 minutes early that day, but they’ll believe you more if you make a habit of always getting there early or on time. If you show up late consistently, the message you’re giving your prospective managers is, “My schedule is more important than this internship” and that’s not what you want to be remembered for.
Make Your Voice Heard
By getting the internship, you’ve already proven yourself worthier than the other candidates who didn’t, but that’s not enough. The person who stagnates at their internship is the one who’ll just melt into the background, fading from everyone’s memories when it comes time to decide who stays on and who doesn’t.
The most important thing to remember is to mainly offer your opinion when you’re asked for it, especially when you’re an intern. People in general have a tendency to seek out opinions that jive with theirs, and this is particularly true when it comes to insecure people. But when you are asked, show how much you’ve researched the company and your position, and give a thoughtful, well-rounded answer. If you’re not feeling confident about doing this, pay close attention to the ones who give great answers and study why. Your prospective managers need to see that you’re invested in the company and really want to be there, and a wallflower just won’t cut it.
Adapt to Office Culture
It’s a tricky balance, be noticeable enough that you’re on managers’ minds once your internship’s up but not so noticeable you stick out like a sore thumb. What you want to do is be like the friendly person on the bus who’s able to strike up a conversation with their seatmate if the chatting’s there for the taking, not the person on the bus people make videos of on their iPhones and post to YouTube.
Do the same with your internship where you’re polite, friendly, and enough like everyone else at the office, and don’t insist on letting your personality hang out completely if it’s going to cause waves. Being yourself is a wonderful thing and something not many people are able to do, but there’s a time and a place for it. If your office calls for dressy clothes and a formal atmosphere, put on a suit or skirt and dig up your Deep South manners, not your surfer gear and lingo. This job is about the office, not you, and you won’t nab yourself many job offers if you think the other way around.
Put on Your Professional Hat
Closely related to the above tip, this one refers more to just being a grownup, full stop. A mature employee leaves their party hat at home, on the weekends, and doesn’t come to work with a hangover. They know their job is important and worth prioritizing, and so they make a choice: be good and responsible during the week, giving their job a fair and full effort, and making a definite line between that and their weekend downtime.
Responsible employees also know that what goes on Facebook doesn’t stay on Facebook, but rather makes its way through gossip circles faster than a prairie fire. They don’t use social media to post pictures and videos of themselves chugging eight beers in a row, but rather use it as a networking strategy. The weekend antics happen and everyone knows it happens, but they abide by the rule of “pics, or it didn’t happen.”