With 2020 right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about your education and career goals for the new year. Summer internship programs are a great way for college students to develop business skills, learn about professional life and potentially land a job opportunity once college is over. Some internships require your application months in advance, therefore it’s not too early to start thinking now about how you want to spend your summer.
One thing all students should consider before starting their summer internship is to think about what it means to be a successful intern. It’s up to you to decide how to handle the opportunity based on what you have to offer. It’s not about the company telling you what to do; it’s about you showing your value through your own initiative, motivation, and personal and professional skill set. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your summer internship and become a valuable asset to the company you intern for.
Read Industry Literature and Trade Magazines
Step one includes some research. You need to learn about the industry before you become a part of it. This research may also help to give you ideas on how you can help the company make changes or be more competitive. This understanding will go a long way as the company could start to view you as a professional rather than a summer intern.
Read trade publications. Michael Matthews of Forbes.com, says “Advertising interns, read AdAge and Advertising Week. Public Relations interns, read PRWeek; social media interns, read Mashable. Finance interns, Wall Street Journal. Accounting interns, The Journal of Accountancy.” Whatever your niche or career goals are, there is a publication that will help you understand it better. Read press releases about the company as well as its competitors. Take specific note of the topics, trends, major players, holding companies and thought leaders.
Review the Company’s Website
Take time to review and learn about the company, its products, and its services. Read the bios on the employees who currently work there. Check out their LinkedIn profiles so that when you begin your internship, you’ll feel that you already know your supervisors and co-workers.
Be prepared on your first day to go around and meet people and introduce yourself. Taking the initiative to meet your co-workers will help set a good tone for your ability to establish personal and professional relationships.
I suggest doing this before you even apply for the summer internship. Employers are going to be looking at your LinkedIn profiles, but they might also be checking out your Instagram and Facebook as well. While you don’t need to go deleting everything you have ever posted, ensure the search results are what companies wouldn’t consider “risky” or inappropriate. Everyone knows and expects you to have a Facebook with party pictures or maybe even some strongly worded comments, but make sure your privacy settings are secure and overall results show up favorably.
Update your wardrobe
Although leggings and a sweatshirt might cut it in the classroom, they won’t quite work at an internship. What you wear is your first impression and you want to dress to impress. Research the company and see what kinds of clothes they wear. If you are at a more corporate location the dress might be more business professional, but at an agency it might be more casual. Regardless, it never hurts to buy a few more pieces to add to your professional wardrobe.
Get your sleep on track
As you finish out the school year, staying up until 3 a.m. is fairly common, especially during finals week. Unfortunately that is not a good sleeping habit to have for a summer internship. In the days leading up to your first day, practice going to bed at a decent time and waking up around the time you would to prepare for the workday. This will help get your sleeping patterns get back on track, and you will be much happier when your first day rolls around. A good night’s sleep is invaluable!
Practice Getting There Ahead of Time
In an interview with WayUp, a former intern and now full time employee, Jerermy, explained how her prepared for his first day with Goldman Sachs. “Something I did which I found very helpful was a dry run of my commute the day before I started my internship. I woke up early, put on my suit, and ran through all the subways and the PATH train to make sure that I could arrive at my job on time just in case there were any mishaps with transportation on my first day.” It might seem silly, but the last thing you want to do is show up late on your first day because you were unsure about the commute. Time the drive or check public transportation schedules, and go on a test run just to make sure you have it down.
Despite all your research and industry literature reading and experience at school, you aren’t going to know as much as the people you are working with. This is a learning experience for you which means you have to be open to guidance. Basically I’m saying, don’t go into your internship with a cocky attitude. Watch for places where you may be able to offer assistance or lend a hand. Volunteer and don’t turn down a project—even if it may seem like filling time from your perspective. Always remember the internship is an opportunity that the company did not have to offer. You are there to show your value, skill set and willingness to learn. Be grateful and work hard.
Never Say No
Having a good attitude and staying humble as an intern also means doing some tasks that you might not want to. But a successful intern shouldn’t say no to these assignments. Learn now to make a good cup of coffee and how to double-side print on a copy machine. Master the simple things so they become a non-issue in the office because you’ve got it covered. Occasionally ask your boss “is there anything I can help you with?” As Michael Matthews says “try and listen for those spoken or unspoken needs and be pro-active. When your asked to do something beneath you, do it, but do it better than anyone else.” Good luck!