Internships are a valuable way to gain experience in the business world. For many students, an internship is the first time that they are working in their field of study. Some internships are paid and some are not. An internship position can last from a week to a year. There are interns that are given many complex tasks and then there are interns that barely do anything. All these factors depend on the company.

Internship
a paid or unpaid position usually for students in order to gain training or work experience.

But whether you are hard at work from morning until night or doing the bare minimum, it is important to get something of value from your position. Even the worst of internships have their silver lining, but it’s up to you to seek it out. Here are some ways that you can make the most of your time at the company.

  • Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s better to get clarification than to do a task wrong. Also, posing questions shows that you have a genuine interest in the company. Go to your coworkers if you have any problems. It’s better to solve things as they arise than worry about asking them a question until it’s too late. Good communication is key.
  • Seek out work. As an intern, you might not be given a lot of work at first. Instead of waiting around after completing your job for the day, go looking for more. Find a job to do either by talking to your boss or seeing if your coworkers need a hand. You’ll gain favor with your coworkers if you help them and you can gain more responsibilities over time. Challenge yourself!
  • Meet your coworkers. You’re going to be working with these people for a fair amount of time so it is only natural that you should form relationships with them. Make an effort to get to know most of your coworkers either through lunch or small talk throughout the day. They can teach you a lot about your job. Plus, it’s always nice to have a friend in the office.
  • Be curious. Take on a variety of tasks from different sections in order to explore all sides of the company. If you are drawn to a particular area, let your boss know and see if you can observe them. It may solidify or change your ideas about what you want your future job to be like. Create your own opportunities and pursue any interests that you have in the company.
  • Request feedback. Try to ask for feedback regularly, especially after you complete big projects. You’ll receive praise for finishing your task and also some constructive criticism. Although a critique of your work might not be entirely pleasant, it is still important. Feedback will help you fix mistakes and improve your work for the future. You’ll learn a lot faster this way.
  • Keep a list. Have a list of your achievements and tasks in a document so that you can refer to them later. This can help motivate you by reminding you of what you have already accomplished. In addition to that, the list is beneficial because it can be used to help create a letter of recommendation. It can also help you remember what you did so that you can talk about your internship in interviews.
  • Try new things. Sometimes your coworkers or boss might approach you with a task that you aren’t used to doing. You should say yes anyways. Step out of your comfort zone and learn how to do new things. Get exposed to different aspects of your company. It will make your internship more exciting and you won’t be stuck always doing the same duties, day in and day out. You might end up doing something you like.
  • Set goals. Go into your internship with solid goals. What do you want to do? What do you want to learn? What do you hope to take away and then use later? These are all important questions that can be used to formulate some objectives. By the end of your internship, you should have achieved these goals. They will ensure that you gained something from your internship if you accomplished what you set out to do.
  • Stay in contact. You should make a serious attempt to keep in touch with your boss and coworkers. Connect through a professional social media platform. Also, send an email to them every month just to keep up a dialogue. This will be useful if you need a reference or letter of recommendation. They also may be able to point you in the right direction of any job openings.
  • Update your resume. Don’t forget to update your resume with this internship experience. Internships are valuable points to talk about during interviews because they demonstrate that you’ve had experience working for a company. Also, be sure to write a short description of the responsibilities that you had while working as an intern. It will definitely catch your interviewers eye.

Don’t just show up to work, do your job and then go home. Be an active participant in your office. If you put in a little more effort, then you’ll get a lot more out of your internship. An internship is definitely the time to expand your abilities. Also, this is a great place to explore different parts of the company. Use your time in this position wisely. All these skills and knowledge will help with a job in the future. Have fun!

Originally published August 1, 2017

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