Talk to any successful business person and ask them about how they got their career start, and you’ll more than likely get a wistful look in their eye as they recall an internship that made a significant impact on their lives.
That’s all well and good, but what is the real trick to making sure your internship doesn’t turn into the “making coffee and running copies” dreaded drudgery?
The truth is that what your internships turns into rests on you.
But there is a real secret to making these internships truly meaningful.
You can make out of it as much or as little as you would like.
Go-getters go into internship experiences with high expectations; more importantly, they have a plan. It’s just not enough to suddenly be granted the privilege to walk through the vaunted doors of the company… you need to help define and shape your experience so that you walk out of there benefiting from it just as much as your internship sponsor.
So what does it take to have a successful plan? How do you communicate it to your supervisor?
Here are 6 tips to help create a satisfying internship experience that creates easily digestible connecting activities that are highly relevant to prospective employers:
1) Set up a planning meeting with your boss. On your first day, it is important to sit down with your supervisor to facilitate a brain storming session to learn about their pain points and set up some structure to what exactly it is that you’ll be working on for them.
2) Suggest specific projects that you will “own.” Having some kind of start-to-finish project ownership will give you something to wrap your arms around and also provide a concrete example of your abilities. Future employers appreciate seeing some kind of specifics in your resume, so the more you can take on and successfully complete, the more you’ll have to talk about to potential new companies.
3) Determine what your project outcomes should be. In order to know whether the project that you work on is successful or not, you should work together with your supervisor to determine what the outcomes should look like so you have measurable targets.
4) Learn new skills. Proactively plan through your internship experience to include opportunities where you can learn new skills to add to your career portfolio. Ask your supervisor about rotating into different roles in the office, find out if you can attend meetings, or even job shadow. The more you learn, the more diverse your skill sets become to make you a better candidate.
5) Build networking contacts. Tap into your supervisor and co-workers to start building your professional network. Leverage your time at the company and ask to be connected to key industry people or thought leaders which can turn into powerful advocates if you treat them right.
6) Schedule internship exit interview with metrics measurements. Your last day should end with a giant slab of cake and ice cream; you should have a specific sit-down meeting with your boss to go over what you learned, what you accomplished, and how they felt you performed in the internship.
By taking these steps, you can have a much more fulfilling experience which will translate into meaty connections that will build your employability and credibility with future potential employers.Photo of Coffee By Justin from Lincoln Park, NJ, USA via Wikimedia Commons