If you thought landing that summer internship was your biggest challenge this year, that’s only half the battle. Now that you have snagged your spot in a business, it’s time to prove your worth and make your employers proud of their hiring decisions. But being labeled as an office “intern” may come with it’s own baggage. Employees may be comparing you to their last summer intern, or making assumptions based on your naivety to the business. Avoid the intern blues and keep up your momentum all summer long with these simple tips:
1. Ask questions! You are the new kid on the block, and you have a right to be confused and ask questions. Many businesses and organizations get in the habit of using acronyms for practically everything, so even office lingo could be a learning curve! Also, other employees may automatically presume that you understand their programs or concepts that they are talking about. Have the confidence to politely pause the conversation and ask for clarification when needed. They will appreciate how attentive you are and your willingness to learn the business.
2. Present your work in a digestible manner. Whether you have spent two straight weeks researching material, or a few hours working on an assignment, when presenting your work to your manager, do it in an appealing and simple way. Instead of sitting next to your manager and scrolling through a 20-page document of your progress, summarize your work and key findings into a one-pager handout or a short PowerPoint deck. This strategy will save time and demonstrate your ability to be concise and communicate effectively.
3. Shadow and participate. As an intern, you may be presented with an opportunity to shadow other employees around the office in their meetings, workshops, out-of-office travels and more. When accompanying your office colleagues, do not silently lurk behind them, but instead become their partner in crime! Be an active listener and note-taker during your shadowing experiences, and if you get a chance, provide your own two-cents into their conversations when appropriate.
4. Add your own flair! When I first started my internship this summer, my manager urged me to find that “Hanna-flair” and apply it to my work. Interns are unique because they bring in a fresh, young perspective and an extra pair of eyeballs into the workspace. Getting creative with your projects will make you memorable and valuable to the company.
5. Take advantage of “open door policies.” If anyone in the workplace reminds you that they have an “open door policy,” take them up on that offer and stop by their desk for a chat every so often! This is a great way to build your presence in the workplace and become familiar with how the business operates. Think of your internship as a 12-week long interview for a permanent place in the office. Above all, build those connections within your work environment—these are the people that will vouch for you when it’s time to pass out job offers!