The Intern's Guide: Securing and Succeeding

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College students are wedged between “I’m still a kid,” and “Holy crap, I’m an adult now.” They’re able to live functional lives on their own but may still turn to Mom when scheduling a doctor’s appointment.

The transition from babysitting and delivering pizza to a real-world office setting is without a doubt intimidating. Internships provide cushion that lessens the blow life hits you with after graduating college.

Choose the Right Internship

We’ve all heard horror stories of bosses who expect their intern to do meaningless tasks, unrelated to the career they are working towards. My advice to the students in those situations is to discover your end goal and find an internship that will help get you there. Dedicate your time and effort to a company that wants to see you succeed. Don’t waste these valuable college years trying to impress someone who isn’t willing to help you grow professionally.

Networking is Key

The greatest piece of wisdom to offer: network your socks off. Even as an incoming freshman, make friends with upperclassmen and get to know your professors. There’s no telling how far these connections will take you when the time is right. Seek out the networking resources your college has to offer, attend LinkedIn seminars, visit with your career counselor, meet with local industry professionals, learn about job-searching platforms specific to your school – there really is no over-doing it.

Perfect Your Personal Brand

You thought you were nervous submitting college applications? Just wait until you prepare a resume, write a cover letter, fill out an application, talk your way through a phone interview, and if you’re lucky enough, complete an in-person interview. Presenting yourself on paper can be a challenging task and doing it in person can be even harder. Being nervous is natural, but to really sell yourself, confidence is key. Express genuineness during your interview, and remember whatever position you are looking into must be as good of a fit for you as you are for it.

Dress the Part

One major concept I was dumbfounded by when first entering the realm of internships: how to dress like an adult. My normal attire of t-shirt and sweatpants did not exactly cut it in an office setting, so figuring out how to squeeze nicer clothes into my ballin’-on-a-college-budget was important. As an intern, you are going to be viewed as naïve simply because of your age and experience level. Dressing the part of a professional makes a world of difference.

There’s No Bad Question

Something you should never be afraid to do: ask questions. Seriously. If you’re not sure of something or don’t understand a project you’re tasked with, don’t hesitate to approach your supervisor and ask for clarification. Everyone starts somewhere and there is nothing wrong with needing a little guidance. 

Ask for extra work when you have time to give. Even if your supervisors and coworkers don’t have any projects to give you at that time, the gesture demonstrates eagerness to learn. When you find yourself with nothing to do, fill your time with proactive ways to help your team. Soon you will be viewed as a valued member.

Keep Your Connections

Just because your internship comes to an end doesn’t mean the relationships you have built during your time at that company need to. Keep in contact with your colleagues and supervisors, as no one knows your work ethic and talents better than they do! These relationships can serve as valuable references in the future.

Ultimately, internships give you a small taste of what the world is going to be like after graduation.... It may seem like life ends after college, but it is only just beginning.