How to Survive Downtime at Your Internship
So you’ve landed what you think is the perfect internship. You love the location, the company, and your fellow interns, but there’s one problem: you aren’t getting enough assignments. Speaking up to your boss and other senior-level coworkers can be intimidating, so follow these tips on how to gain more experience and get the most out of your internship!
1. Ask your direct supervisor for more work first. If you find yourself with a lot of spare time at work, this should be the first person you should contact, even if they seem unapproachable. Ask him or her if there is anything else you can help with or feedback that he or she can give you on some of your previous assignments. Be sure to mention areas of the company that you find interesting. Sometimes, it can be frustrating when your supervisor seems perpetually busy. If this is the case for you, ask them for some suggestions on whom to speak to next!
2. If asking your supervisor wasn’t successful, approach one of your coworkers that he or she suggested or with whom you have done assignments for in the past, and see if they have anything with which you can help. If they don’t at the moment, they will look out for you later if they know that you are eager to work on something. Be friendly, but not pushy. Sometimes people are swamped and will be eager to hand off some tasks to the proactive intern.
3. Read industry magazines or the newspaper. Stay informed. While I had some downtime at my last internship or was in between assignments, I read the online editions of The New York Times and Advertising Age. Read the front page, and then look for relevant articles in other sections. You never know when a current events topic will come up in a meeting!
4. If possible, collaborate with other interns on an assignment. As a copywriting intern this past summer, I often helped the graphic design interns write copy for pages that they were designing, which helped me see different aspects of my company. Plus, you’ll probably make some great friends in the process!
5. If all else fails, return to your supervisor and ask that he or she continue to look for work for you to do! As your supervisor, they should be willing to help you out. Don’t be afraid to be persistent. When I interned last summer, I would visit my supervisor’s office every morning, even just to say hello. Keep your face in the front of his or her mind.
The most important thing to do is show initiative. I know it’s easy to hide at your desk and pretend to work, but you won’t learn anything if you browse Facebook all day-save that for home. Keep on looking, and I’m sure more tasks will fall in your lap soon!
This post was written by Devin McGuire, our Campus Ambassador from Boston University