This guest post was written by Amanda Greene, a manager for RHL.org -the best source for residence hall linens on the web.
Internships are valuable because they help young people transition from work to a career. While many young people already think of themselves as adults and many of them have had to hold jobs and assume adult responsibilities for a long time they still do not think of themselves as X.
Internships provide a place to learn about a job and a field. They are a place to gain valuable experience. An internship is also a place to make connections with people in a particular industry. These connections lead to paid jobs. Despite what is written in the media about there being a lack of good jobs, smart employers are always on the lookout for ambitious, bright young people. An Intern should take advantage of their position with dogged determination to meet and impress as many potential employers as possible. Get out there and sell yourself. Used properly this Internship is a platform for jumping into a great career.
Interns commonly show important people around and are in charge of things like correspondence and a thousand other tasks. Every single task is an opportunity to take credit and be noticed.
Exemplary employers promote their interns and they are willing to give interns credit for ideas and projects. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. There is a conflict of interest on the behalf of the employer. They stand a real chance of losing their valuable (often free) intern. It is the intern’s responsibility to get out there, meet people and get credit for all the work they are doing. This is what it means to start treating your internship like a career. This is more than an internship and a learning experience it is a chance to become linked in and build connections
Use LinkedIn to Connect with People from Day One
Selling yourself while interning isn’t always easy. Some interns are shy; others are never given an opportunity to leave their computer. Luckily today LinkedIn provides an exceptional place to help an intern break the shy ice. LinkedIn is a community where an intern can start to think of themselves as a professional and ask all sorts of questions they may have about their field.
From the day you join an organization as an intern update your LinkedIn resume and then send out requests to everyone within the organization telling them that you are so and so’s new intern and that you would like to connect with them. Interns are often looked on favorably in companies and organizations, so many requests will be accepted. Have a clear photo attached to your profile. Take names of the people that accept and research them, their background and their departments. When you see them in the building say hello, mention the Linkedin connection and something like, “I really enjoyed reading your latest contribution to the company newsletter about Six Sigmaoptimization.” Here’s a hint if you don’t know what Six sigma optimization is go and look it up! This is part of the education you are getting from your internship!
Any time you meet important people through your internship, ask them if you can continue to keep in contact via LinkedIn. If there isn’t an opportune time to do this when you get home send them a LinkedIn request, mention you were the Intern that helped them today and that you want to learn more about what they do. Requests don’t stop there. Whenever you participate on a project, ask for a LinkedIn recommendation from your boss and others.
The power of using LinkedIn as an Intern also includes meeting potential recruiters. Unlike common forum groups and Facebook, recruiters stalk the corridors of LinkedIn on the lookout for bright young talent. Start corresponding with a few of the highly recommended recruiters while you are interning. As they see your recommendations list grow they will be increasingly interested. Linkedin is so much more than just a place to post a resume. Use this tool and your internship status to it’s full advantage to network and find a JOB.
Use LinkedIn Wisely
All social media needs to be approached with EXTREME caution. Everything that is posted can take on a life of it’s own. Be polite, professional and under no circumstances talk about the specifics of your current boss or exactly what you are doing in your Internship on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is used in a variety of ways and spying is actually on the top of the list for many people. Negativity, commiseration, bad mouthing- don’t go there. Save things like this for a cell phone call with your best friend. High school is over and judgments in the real world can be harsh. Keep your mouth shut and learn for some time before posting public comments on Linkedin Groups.
You are going to mistakes. This is normal, both in your Internship and when learning to network effectively in person and on LinkedIn. Youth and energy will overcome the setbacks. Get out there, get noticed and land your dream job!