You worked so hard to get the interview, emailed every contact you could find, tweaked your resume until all hours in the night, and stressed excessively during your interviews. When you finally landed the perfect summer internship, you thought that your headaches were finally over. But landing that dream summer job is only the tip of the employment iceberg, and sadly your responsibilities are just beginning. There is almost more pressure to perform and prove yourself once the job begins, especially if that internship has the potential to turn into a full-fledged offer of employment. If you’re stressed over how to impress your employer, here are 11 sure-fire ways to kick butt and take names at your summer internship.
1Always ask for help.
If you’re confused about a task or just don’t quite grasp what you’re supposed to be doing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You should not be afraid of your older co-workers or your boss. They are there to help teach you and mentor you in your career journey. Besides, isn’t it more embarrassing to make a mistake than to clarify your task beforehand anyway? Most upper-level management would rather you bother them with questions and show your willingness to learn rather than hand them a sub-par assignment you will just have to do over again.
2Don’t be afraid to take initiative.
Do not sit at your desk twiddling your thumbs. You should always be busy! Your supervisor will love getting emails from you asking for more tasks. You should always be available to help anyone in your department, even with the smallest task. If you see a stack of papers that need to be filed, file them. If you see that the printer ran out of paper, put more in. These small steps of being aware and helpful can make a big impression.
This is huge. Do not walk around your office without a smile! It’s proven that smiling is the best way to make new friends and give an amazing first impression. If you walk around sulking, people will think you don’t like your job and you will be less successful at the company in the long run. Even if you are having a bad day, push it aside for the moments when you walk down the halls.
4Be more professional than necessary.
Younger people often get a bad rap for being unprofessional. While it is okay to dress in a trendy and stylish manner, make sure your outfit is appropriate for the workplace. Employers will appreciate a proper and workplace-friendly wardrobe, and the added maturity bonus to your reputation isn’t too shabby either. This also goes for emails: every email you send should be written as if addressed to the CEO of the company. Do not use acronyms like ‘LOL’ or abbreviations. Informal writing is most definitely not workplace appropriate and will make you seem not ready for the job.
5Stay off your phone and social media.
No employer wants a summer intern that proves their worst fears: millennials are lazy and addicted to their phones. It is appropriate to take occasional breaks and check your phone but do so in the bathroom or outside of the office. You should also avoid using social media and questionable websites on workplace computers since employers can see not only which sites you visit, but also how long and how frequently you visit them.
6No task is beneath you.
Filing papers? Getting coffee for your whole team? Organizing your boss’s desk? Cleaning up the room after a big meeting? While these menial tasks should not make up the entirety of your responsibilities, they are probably going to be a part of it. And while they aren’t ideal, you should never make a face or say snide comments about how you deserve more work. Often times, these small tasks show the company you are willing to do anything and also teach you valuable lessons about hard work.
Everyone needs time to chill and relax. I’m not saying you should to take a half hour siesta, but a five minute break here and there to grab a cup of coffee or visit a coworker on another floor is totally acceptable. It is a great way to get your mind back on track, and can even help you be more productive during the day.
8Go to work events outside the office.
Take advantage of happy hour with your co-workers or the office retreat to get to know people outside your department and make lasting connections. It is nice to get to know people outside their everyday, normal work personas. These events are often philanthropic-based, like planting flowers in a children’s garden, building houses, or painting a mural.
9Reach out to people and make connections.
This is one of the best things you can do for your career during your internship. Make an effort to set up meetings to “interview” fellow employees and upper-level management. This can be a great way to learn about a new department you’ve never heard of and want to know more about, or explore a department you’re already interested in. It’s important to use the resources around you to improve your knowledge of your industry and the possible career options in the working world.
10Connect with people on LinkedIn.
One of the best and easiest ways to keep in touch with the connections you make at work is on LinkedIn. A good time to connect with people is after you have worked with them closely for a few weeks. Otherwise, you might come off as too aggressive. From my own experience, the head of Human Resources from the company I interned with last summer continuously reaches out to me via LinkedIn, and without that, we probably wouldn’t keep in touch.
11Show your gratitude.
End your term with the company by writing your supervisor or team of supervisors a note thanking them for the opportunity to work with them. A handwritten note shows a level of thoughtfulness and it so much more personal than a quick thank you email. An email will be forgotten, but a handwritten thank you card is something special. Last year for my internship, I made small mason jars filled with candy along with the notes I wrote. My bosses loved them and were able to keep the jars and notes on their desks, making me a lasting memory rather than just that summer intern.
These suggestions will help you thrive during your ten-week long employment, but working hard and being yourself are great ways to make lasting connections. Overall, be open to any experiences, tasks, and people you might meet. Internships are supposed to help you grow both professionally and personally. You might be surprised just how much you change during those ten weeks.