Internships are a crucial part of many college students’ experience as they provide invaluable professional experience in a desired field. Schools encourage them, internship specific programs are popping up in more companies each year, and most jobs expect students to have that experience when applying for a full-time position upon graduation. But, simply having the title of an “intern” on a resume is only a piece of it.
There is a necessity of certain skills learned and takeaways from the position that make an internship look impressive to a potential employer. So, if you find yourself in an internship, you may consider what to do to make the most of it. Here are some simple tips to maximize your potential in a new position.
1. Ask to shadow employees within your department. Job shadowing can be an invaluable tool to learn from the full-time professionals already in a field you’re considering a future in. In your role as an intern, wanting to spend time learning from these individuals in your own department can give you the skills necessary to produce a higher quality of work in your own day-to-day tasks. In addition, it provides an opportunity to ask questions, whether that be about that employee’s experience, advice about entering the job of interest, or why they enjoy their position.
2. Ask to shadow employees in other departments. Shadowing outside of your department is also an excellent opportunity to gain a broader knowledge of a field as a whole. For example, if you work in recruitment, spending time learning from individuals in the Social Media or Training and Development departments can make you a more well-rounded professional. It also equips you with the experience necessary to make a well informed decision about what path you want to take after graduation. Maybe you started with an interest in Marketing, but after shadowing in HR you realize that is a better fit for your future. You never know unless you try, so why not learn from the best!
3. Be involved! Take every opportunity you’re given to sit in on team meetings, listen in on client calls, etc. These key opportunities not only provide a chance to understand additional components of how the business operates, but also lead into a chance to build stronger relationships with your coworkers. In addition, the desire to learn from others shows a willingness to grow within your position and expand your knowledge base, which will not only look great within your organization, but also to future employers.
4. Keep a journal of your day to day. Whether you decide to utilize a google doc or a notepad, keeping a daily journal of your day-to-day tasks within your internship is beneficial on multiple fronts. Not only will it keep you organized, but it is the perfect tool to use upon completion of your position. In my internship for example, I will be giving a final presentation and will have to complete a portfolio in order to receive college credit. For each of these, I will use the journal I have kept to accurately portray my full experience and explain in detail each thing I have done. Keeping this list is also a crucial component for resume building and business connection platforms, such as LinkedIn. Adding descriptive analysis of your internship on these improves your marketability to future employers. In addition, taking a few minutes to review your journal before walking into an interview can serve as a great tool in order to sell yourself in greater depth.
5. Stay positive! In this day and age, a positive attitude is becoming increasingly rare. This is just one reason that in my opinion positivity significantly improves your value to current and future employers. Not only are there health benefits such as reducing stress and increasing energy levels, there are also significant workplace advantages. Some of these include improvement of interpersonal relationships with coworkers, self-esteem and confidence in your work and self, customer relations, and productivity. As attitudes improve, so does the team’s potential. Keep your outlook positive because it is a crucial element to success in your internship!
Will you decide to flourish or flop in your internship? The difference between the two is simply a proactive attitude to seek out new growth opportunities, a desire to learn as much as possible, and willing and positive outlook. Your time as an intern is an INVESTMENT in your future, so maximizing the short time you have in the role is vital! At the end of the day, you will either develop a love for your desired field, or realize it’s not for you, but either way you’re contributing to your decision of what career you spend your time pursuing upon graduation.
“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” -Ann Landers
Elizabeth Kaffenberger is a Business Management Major at Evangel University, where she will be graduating in May 2020. At C&A Industries, she is one of our Summer 2019 interns who works as a Sales and Recruitment intern in the Rehabilitation Therapy Division. When not at work or school, Elizabeth enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends.