How to Be a Great Intern in 6 Easy Steps

So you just got your first internship offer – congratulations! You’re probably thinking about how great you’re going to be on the job, how much your colleagues will love you, and that you’ll get hired as soon as it’s over. These things are a lot easier said than done. Here are six tips for making a great impression and having the most meaningful experience possible.

Great intern

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Be Committed. 

Although your internship can last anytime between three to nine months, act like you’re there for the long-term. Dedicate yourself to assignments, make friendly connections with coworkers, and make yourself a seemingly irreplaceable team member. You may find it hard to stay motivated knowing you’ll be out of there in a few months but make this your first priority.

Be Punctual.

Arrive on time every day and be sure to call or email your supervisor if you’re running late. Also know that deadlines are not suggestions – they are concrete. Meet them by whatever means necessary, even if it means staying an extra hour at the office, or enlisting the help of a fellow intern.

Ask Questions.

If you don’t fully understand an assigned task, do not hesitate to ask questions. You may think it’s best not to bother your boss, but he/she will be a lot more aggravated if you misunderstand and spend an hour (or a whole day) doing the wrong thing.

Go Above and Beyond.

If you spot a gap in a project, an unorganized bookshelf, or that there are no coffee filters left, offer to do the job yourself. Remember that no task is too big or small; the point is to always think about what you can contribute as long as it doesn’t interfere with your regular duties.

Be Polite.

With the advent of email and instant messaging many professionals have forgotten the rules of basic human communication. Don’t fall victim to it yourself. Despite their decline, these skills are still highly appreciated. Always smile and say hi when you come in or when you see someone in the hallway; Make small talk at the water cooler; wish colleagues a good weekend, etc. Even if you stink at everything else you do at this internship, at least people will always remember you for being nice.

Leave on a High Note.

If you don’t get a full-time offer at the end of your internship, don’t take it personally. It most likely means the company doesn’t have any openings at the moment, or that an extra employee is simply not in their budget. When your internship is over, be sure to connect with your coworkers on LinkedIn, and don’t hesitate to ask for a recommendation either – especially from your supervisor(s). Also, set a meeting with your boss (or possibly a coffee date) to discuss your performance. During the evaluation, kindly ask what he/she thinks your strengths and weaknesses are. Ask for career advice, as well as to introduce you to their connections about possible future employment. And to really put the cherry on top, bring in some mini muffins or a cookie tray on your last day, as a thank you to everyone you worked with.

What would you add to this list? 

About the Author

Alexandra is a Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Natural Gourmet Institute. She holds a degree in English Literature & Criticism from Hunter College, and is an experienced editorial and social media marketing professional.

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