Working on my fourth internship, I consider myself a semi-expert on how to survive (and how to fail) a three-month stint.
It’s tough to work knowing that no matter how much you love or hate your job, it will be over in a matter of weeks. But if you follow these tips, you’ll have a better chance of being remembered and recommended.
1. Do well. Sure, if you lounge around all summer and browse Reddit instead of doing work you might have a better time. But in the long run, it’s the interns who force themselves to do the grunt work who end up getting a recommendation from their bosses.
2. No excuses. There are plenty of reasons you turned in your assignment late, but unless it was due to a family emergency or illness, your boss probably won’t care. Accept your mistakes and use them as reasons to do even better next time.
3. Pitch in. Offer to go to every meeting and contribute to them when you do. No one will know you have great ideas if you’re hiding in the corner trying not to yawn. People sometimes think being shy means they’re respectful of their superiors, but if you don’t speak up, people will wonder why you’re there at all.
4. Be on time. Yes, the guy who sits next to you in the cubicle might show up 30 minutes late every day, but that is not an excuse for you. Show up on time or early if you can swing it. Even if you don’t think your boss notices you at all, he or she will notice if you cruise in late.
5. Keep your chin up. It’s hard to stay motivated and encouraged when all your ideas get shut down, but only the weak interns use their frustration as an excuse for not contributing. When your boss rejects an idea, listen to why they didn’t like it and improve on it next time. They might still say no, but they’ll appreciate your improvement and perseverance.
6. Take it seriously. Even if your internship only requires you to take lunch orders, take the best damn lunch order ever. If you can prove that you take your job as seriously as your supervisors do, you’ll show them you’re ready to handle big tasks.
8. Try to make friends with your co-workers. In every internship and job I’ve had, I’ve usually left feeling happy that I met some cool people. My internship last summer became instantly more fun once I had a core group of co-workers and other interns I could hang out with outside of work.
9. Be grateful. Even if your internship is unpaid and requires you to commute for an
hour every day, be thankful you have one. Write thank-you notes on your last day and bring in doughnuts for the staff. Show them you were appreciative of the opportunity to work there.
10. Don’t be an idiot. Don’t take naps on your lunch break at your desk. Don’t miss a day without calling in. And most of all, no matter how miserable you are, don’t quit.
11. Learn everyone’s name and be friendly. It might seem awkward to try to befriend a group of people old enough to be your parents, but the more open you are, the more likely it is you’ll be someone they give a reference to.