This time of year is a rush for MIM students to start acquiring summer internships—myself included!—to gain experience before graduating in December. So far we’ve explored ways to prepare your resume, job search, talk about yourself, and interview well. So once you finally land an internship with an amazing company, you should just kick back and let them teach you everything you need to know, right? In fact, that’s perhaps one of the worst ways to approach your internship experience. Read on for our top three recommendations for getting the most out of your newfound internship.
• Be open to learning new things; show initiative
An internship is definitely a great place to gain experience for those with limited on the job training or folks looking to change careers. Use this to your advantage and don’t shy away from doing something new, even if it seems challenging. The idea of working in an internship is to have a “trial run” of sorts with a company you may be interested in working for. Use it as an opportunity to learn as much as you can and determine whether it’s where you want to be or not. Even concluding that a certain job or company is not the right fit can be incredibly useful. Finally, don’t sit back and wait for the manager to give you things to do … take the work you’re given, but when you feel ready, ask for more on your own, or propose projects you’re interested in working on or learning about. This leads us to my second point …
• Make an impression
Ideally, if you like the company you are interning with, you’ll want to get a full time position with them after you graduate. If this is the case do everything you can to make a positive impression on your supervisors and co-workers. Show them how you add value to the team, and don’t be shy. If you make a positive impression the chances of landing a full time job post-internship are going to increase. Beyond that, even if you decide a full time job isn’t right for you, making a good impression will certainly open the door to receiving a shining reference to help you out in your next opportunity.
• Network like you’re going to win an award
Finally, while learning is one of the biggest aspects of taking an internship, networking is arguable the most important thing you can do. You should make every opportunity you can to establish and nurture personal relationships with as many people as you can while working an internship. These are folks that you can add via LinkedIn, ask for recommendations, and perhaps even make extended connections through to get to the next step in your career. Never underestimate the power of a new connection—especially if you can find areas of shared interest to make it all the more meaningful.
Hopefully these tips will help you get more than just a few added lines to your resume after your internship. For another great resource, check out the blog, The Savvy Intern, run by the folks at YouTern.com!
If you’ve had previous internships, or are currently working in one, what is the best advice you would give to someone starting out?
Ryan is a part of the Master of International Management full-time 2012 cohort, and a MIM Student Ambassador. Currently he works within the Willamette Valley wine industry as a social media consultant, and wants to broaden his career in marketing to a global level through the MIM program. His favorite aspects of MIM are networking with other students from around the world and learning Mandarin Chinese. Ryan is passionate about food, wine, and travel and writes on these topics for other sites. Visit Ryan’s site here.