The Perfect Intern

Intern working with mentor
Cultura Exclusive/Sofie Delauw/Getty Images

Since one of the main accomplishments of completing an internship is securing a job, it’s important to know what employers look for when seeking the perfect person for the job. Making a good first impression is important, but doing the right things so that supervisors will sing your praises and provide excellent references is essential. Since internships usually only last for several months, it’s imperative that you keep your eye on the goal and not get yourself off target.

Employers usually seek candidates who possess previous experience in the field. For candidates who do not have any relevant experience, finding a job in a particular field of interest is going to be tough. With three summers and 8 college semesters available during your college career, there’s no excuse as to why you cannot get two or three internships completed prior to graduating from college. For those who are set on a particular career, getting similar internships with a slightly different focus can be helpful. Also, for those who have no idea about what they want to do, trying out different types of internships will provide the best advantage to become acquainted with various careers by working in different environments and meeting professionals in the field.

Job Shadowing

Job shadowing is another activity college students can engage in to find out more about specific careers. Since job shadowing usually lasts only for one day to several weeks, it’s another way to explore careers by finding a sponsor willing to commit to that limited length of time.

Finding the perfect internship is not always easy. The competition for summer internships can often make them hard to find. One of the best ways for making sure that you get a summer internship in your field is to begin looking early. Opportunities in finance, journalism, and government often have application deadlines as early as October.

By preparing your resume and cover letter early, you will be ready to send your documents as internships get posted. Although finding the perfect internship can be somewhat daunting, it’s only just the start of becoming the perfect intern. Always be sure to keep future goals in mind, such as: establishing strong networks of professionals in the field and getting the real work experience that employers look for in the job hiring process.

Know Your Stuff

Even before the interview, it’s important to learn as much about the company as you can by visiting the company’s website as well as the company and employees LinkedIn pages to gather as much information as possible. By using the Advanced button on the top right of your LinkedIn page, you may even find alumni from your college that you can connect with prior to interviewing or starting your internship or job.

Show Your Commitment

By showing up for work on-time and not bolting out the door at the end of the day, you are showing your commitment to doing a good job rather than just punching a time card. Employees who enjoy their job and look to find ways to do it better are not concerned about the time and don’t bolt at the end of the day. In fact, it’s the employees who don’t see their job as a job and have no problem working overtime.

This usually gets noticed by supervisors.

Finding employees with a strong work ethic is sometimes difficult for employers to find. Since internships are an excellent way to train and evaluate potential future employees, it’s important for interns to take stock in how employers view them and find ways that they can make improvements to prove to employers that you are someone that they want to keep around long after the internship is over.

Become Knowledgeable in Your Field

As an intern, you are expected to ask questions. The only way you will be able to learn more on the job is to ask intelligent questions. By asking questions you are showing the employer that you are motivated and ready to take the initiative to do a good job. By using the knowledge you learn you will be sure to remember it and be able to build on that knowledge by demonstrating the use of your skills.

Get to Know the Staff

Although employers want to see their interns as learning and possessing a strong work ethic, they also like to see people who make a point of meeting and getting along with their supervisors and coworkers. It is during lunch and other more social experiences where you can begin developing relationships that make for a happier and more enjoyable workplace. When hiring, managers look for individuals that they feel will fit in well within the organization as well as possessing the knowledge and skills to do the job.

Build Strong Professional Relationships and Find Yourself a Mentor

Building a strong professional network is key to getting ahead in your career. You never know when someone you previously worked with will be able to provide support and information about your potential next job. It’s also key to find yourself a mentor who is willing to help you learn the ropes and supports you in moving ahead in your current or future job. Finding a good mentor can make your first years on the job less stressful as well as being able to tap into the wisdom and experience of someone already successful in the field.

Avoid Office Politics and Gossip

Gossiping either in or outside of the office can create serious problems for the future. Employees who want to get ahead know that participating in office gossip is not something to be engaged in. Aligning yourself with a select group of co-workers sets you up for potential problems with other members of the group. As a mature employee who wants to get ahead, you will want to stay in favor with the majority of employees and not set yourself up to be seen as an office gossip or someone who only associates with just a small group of individuals within the organization.

Keep in Touch Once Your Internship Is Over

The first thing an intern should do once their internship is over is to send a thank you note to their supervisor and anyone else who played a key role in making their internship a success. Keeping in touch with these contacts once you return to college is also a great idea to help maintain important contacts and to keep abreast of future openings to which you may qualify.

The Internship Success Guide provides additional information on things you can do to ensure that your internship is successful.

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