This blog was written by Campus Ambassador Alex Abel from Binghamton University.
Internships are daunting. While it’s an amazing feeling to get the internship of your dreams, the pressure to do well can result in a breeding ground for nerves, uneven photocopies and spilled coffee. After having a few internships, I’ve witnessed the intimidation factor first-hand, but have seen a transformation in myself to overcome those nerves and take chances. By staying in touch with my supervisors, I’ve also learned tips straight from the source of what they like and don’t like. Now while we all know there’s only one Intern Queen, follow these tips to get over your nerves and become an intern princess or prince. Seriously, start polishing that crown!
1. No is never the answer. It doesn’t matter what form it comes in, when your supervisor asks you to do something the answer must always be an enthusiastic “YES!” You may be nervous, but saying ‘I’m not really good at that’ or ‘I’ll mess it up’ is pretty much the same as holding up a giant ‘I’m too cool’ sign. It’s important to be confident at your internship and if you don’t know how to do something, just ask. Look at every task as a challenge, a way to grow and to learn something new. That’s what internships are for! Always come prepared with a pen and notebook so you can jot down exactly what your supervisor wants, and can write down answers to your questions so you won’t forget. Also, if you don’t have much going on, don’t be afraid to swing by your supervisor’s desk or send a quick email asking if they have anything going on that they need help with. She’ll be impressed with your initiative and might start trusting you with even bigger projects in the future!
2. Introduce yourself to new people. This can be one of the hardest intern tasks to accomplish. It’s not something required, and forces you to step outside of your comfort zone. But meeting new people that work outside of your department will help expand your network and provide new opportunities to learn. Now I know this can be super scary, but it really doesn’t have to be! If you break it down and coach yourself on what to say beforehand you can approach the situation calmly. If your supervisor has nothing for you to do at the moment, feel free to stop by someone’s desk you admire, introduce yourself and ask if they need help with anything. Or if the office is bigger on email, send one with a quick introduction of your role as an intern and excitement to learn as much as you can. You’d be thrilled to help out if they need anything. If you sit near someone you don’t know, a compliment is always a good way to break the ice and get a conversation going. The possibilities are really endless. Don’t let this overtake your everyday intern tasks, but meeting more people when you have a moment will help you learn more and shine even brighter. Bonus: you’ll have more people to reach out to later when it’s time to start the job hunt!
3. Say hi once in awhile. Staying in touch is something the Intern Queen stresses like it’s her job. (Oh wait…) But in all seriousness, while keeping in contact with your supervisors is something heard so often, it’s not done nearly half as much. When I went back to visit my past internships over spring break, they expressed that only a few interns actually take the time to check in, or send an email at the very least. It can be nerve-wracking, and you may think you're bothering them, but they really will be pleased to hear from you! The responsibility lies in your hands to keep the contacts up and by staying in touch you’re guaranteed to stay in the front of their minds when a job opportunity rolls around. Whether it’s a quarterly email or a holiday card, supervisors appreciate you saying hello. One of my supervisor’s still has a card I sent her hanging up on her desk. It’s something simple on your part that will keep the relationship intact and ensure that you’re remembered.
Good luck! Feel free to share your own tips below!