Interning is a wonderful way to gain work experience and lay the foundation for your future career.  But to get the most out of it, you have to do more than just land the job and show up for work.  Here are some tips that will help you get the full benefits of interning:

1. Make the Most Out of Your Internship

This is more than a job, it’s a learning experience.  Your co-workers know you are new to this and will want to help you, but they can’t spend all day explaining things to you. So when they answer your questions or show you how to do something, pay attention.  Also observe to what’s going on around you. How do your co-workers talk to each other? How do they treat the boss? What are their goals and concerns? Learn the culture and customs of the work world.

2. Be Realistic

You may get stuck with some work that you feel is beneath you, boring, or just seems pointless.  However, every task in a company has a purpose and impacts the bigger picture.   The trick is to make the best of it by doing an outstanding job with every task you’re assigned. There is always something more to learn. How long you do grunt work depends on what you make of it. It’s up to you to prove you can do more. You have to earn your employer’s trust.

3. Be Professional

Don’t show up late, text, instagram or talk on your cell phone, check your Facebook page or surf the internet on company computers/time.  Don’t “disappear, taking extra-long breaks, gossip about coworkers or bring your personal life to work with you. The more formal you are in your written and oral communication, the better.  Slang and swearing should be left at home for your homies.

4. Don’t Learn Bad Behaviors

Not everyone in the workplace will be a consummate professional.  They may dress or act inappropriately or have a questionable work ethic.  Just because “adults” do something doesn’t mean it’s right.  Act like the professional you see yourself being.

5. Don’t be Afraid to Talk to People

Don’t be intimidated because you are a student. People are sometimes too busy to roll out the red carpet so you have to make the first move to talk with coworkers and supervisors. Ask questions!

6. Ask for things to do

Don’t wait to be told what to do. Solving problems and taking initiative are the best ways to stand out. Take on anything you can and show that you can be counted upon to get it done quickly and accurately. Even if it’s something dull like filing paperwork, your efforts will be recognized, appreciated and remembered.

7. Learn all you can about the industry

Talk with people in different departments as well as clients and vendors. If your organization receives industry publications via mail or email, read them.

8. Keep your eyes and ear open

You won’t find everything you need to know in the training manual, if you are lucky enough to have one. Read everything you can get your hands on, listen to conversations, ask to sit in on meetings.

9. Don’t burn any bridges

You never know when you will need someone later in your career.

10. Evaluate Your Career Goals

One of the best things you can learn from your internship is whether you’re pursuing the career path that’s right for you. Are you enjoying the work? Is it what you expected? Can you picture yourself doing the same kind of work and being happy with it for the rest of your career? If not, you should re-evaluate your career goals. Discuss your options with your career counselor when you return to school.

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