How To Succeed At Any Internship

Summer break, for many college students, holds the opportunity to take steps towards their future career and professional life. Many spend their summer months at an internship, building professional contacts and learning new skills. I’ve had the privilege this summer to work at an internship in the magazine industry, a career field that I will hopefully enter into upon graduation.

Being an intern for a well-established company has taught me many lessons about how to act and what to do in a professional setting. With any internship, you will always want to impress everyone around you. Your internship will hopefully lead to a future job, especially since your supervisor will one day fill out recommendations on job applications. Make a great impression at your current or future internship with my top four tips below:

1. Be Polite To Everyone

Being a pleasant person to be around is something that everyone at your office, no matter what line of work you’re in, will appreciate. Say hi to each person you walk past when you head to your desk every morning, when you’re in the elevator, or when you’re strolling around the office. This includes the secretaries, custodians, security guards, etc. Remember that no one, no matter their job title, is below you. Like the old phrase goes, you’ll attract more bees with honey. Making a nice impression on everyone you interact with will never be a bad thing.

2. Complete Tasks Thoroughly

As interesting as your internship is (or isn’t) you will be given boring tasks to complete. This may include filing papers, fetching coffee, or any other stereotypical “intern” assignment. No matter how bored you are, do each task thoroughly, paying attention to detail, and doing it all without procrastination. Avoid social media websites, and remember to stay focused. You will be given harder and more important tasks if your supervisor can trust you with the little things. Another tip: if you have completed all your assignments don’t just sit around waiting for more work to be given to you. Taking initiative with your work is impressive, so ask what other tasks you can do.

3. Dress Like You’re the CEO

I once read a quote that said, “If you dress like the CEO, you’ll be treated like the CEO.” Although I doubt those around you in the office will talk to you as if you’re their boss, I do believe that how you present yourself has a lot to do with the amount of respect you receive. Always dress appropriately at your internship, and remember that overdressing is better than underdressing.

4. Socialize in the Break Room

At my internship, every day around noon I take my lunch break and go to the break room to eat my meal. I know some interns do not leave their desks and instead decide to work through lunch, eating as they work. Although this helps you get work done faster, it isolates you from the rest of the office. Networking with professionals, and even other interns, has been one of the most beneficial parts of my internship. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Everyone in your office goes to the break room at least once a day, either to eat or get a drink out of the water cooler. Spark up conversations with those you encounter there, and always introduce yourself. Making relationships with those in the office will lead to mentorships and paves the road to a future career.

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