Every summer, thousands of college students start their transitions from school to career by taking on internships. For many of the students, landing an internship can be enough cause for celebration as getting one has become highly competitive. The high levels of competition bring the added pressure of performing to the expectations of the firm.
Although personal experiences can vary from firm to firm, the best way interns can prepare for the internship is by being aware of the following tips geared towards performing well on the job.
1. People like results
Here at INK we are all about results, but we are not the only ones that find value in the results-oriented approach. Having something to show for the hours spent working for the firm is a great way to meet the firm’s expectations. Firms primarily hire interns to get help in performing a task, the ability to perform that task then will be the primary variable that interns are “graded” on.
How interns show results depends on the type of work being done. Many internships have a set of performance goals or tasks that must be performed. Ensuring those tasks are done and goals met is a sure way to show results.
What about research? Nobody likes answering the question “What have you done for the past five hours?” with “research” while having nothing to show. While doing research, writing down notes or links to information is a good way to not only help present what one has done but also to help organize the research for later use.
2. Be on time
Whether it be to work in the morning or to an office meeting, being timely is important for generating good relations with the office. Especially in group meetings, everyone’s time is being set aside for the particular function. It is unfair to the others in the group to have them wait, as some operate on strict schedules throughout the day.
It is true that different cultures work on different values of time, but generally speaking in the Western world, timeliness is very important and will help in receiving good recommendations. Nevertheless, the company atmosphere plays an integral part in the internship and is something to consider; thus, the third tip.
3. Absorb the company atmosphere
Companies understand that internships are an opportunity for interns to learn more about the career path they are planning to follow. They also understand that interns are looking for “an experience.” As a result, many companies have set up their internships to showcase the company atmosphere. Even in internships that are not set specifically that way, passive observation will often reveal the way the company’s employees interact.
As an intern, it is important to absorb this atmosphere. It will be helpful in dealing with other employees, and it will also keep you from doing things that would get you in trouble with the higher-ups. Dress code, professional speech, and work ethic are all things an intern should be mindful of as one starts to settle in. Unsure of how relaxed the atmosphere will be? It is a good idea to err on the side of being too professional than not enough. The last thing you want is a repeat of the case where all but one of the interns were fired for a petition against company policy.
Although this might seem like a no-brainer, if an employee gives an intern advice or pointers on how to do certain tasks, it is in the best interest of the intern to do things that way. One shouldn’t be afraid of asking why the tasks are done a certain way (this helps with critical thinking in case a situation rises that is different from the norm), but 98 percent of the time, the people in charge of running the business know what they are doing.
Following directions flows from this tip and it should be apparent that interns will make their employers happy by doing what they are told to do.
These simple tips will put interns on the path to success, or at least help them get through an internship while trying to figure out if this is the right career or not.
Are there any tips we missed that you would like potential interns to know? Feel free to share any experiences from past interns on the do’s and don’ts in the office.