By Dennis Hung • July 09, 2018•Law School, Internships and Clerkships
Getting accepted into an internship program is a great learning opportunity for any person, regardless of age, educational background, or skill level. It's a platform that can equip them with the skills and know-how needed to perform proficiently in their chosen industry. But once you get in there, it can be an overwhelming experience, with the fast-paced way they do things and the dozens of professional suits and ties surrounding you. How does one extract the most out of his/her internship? Here are the five pillars that can lead to a successful internship:
Ask a Lot of Questions
The best and brightest interns/employees ask a ton of questions. It doesn't matter if the question is about the industry, business, professional credentials to get a job, or emerging technologies and policies. Contrary to what most people believe, asking a question doesn't make you sound unintelligent and inexperienced; it only shows your willingness to learn and put yourself out there, which are qualities that employers want to see in their interns. Of course, that doesn't mean you should just openly ask whatever random question pops into your head. Be sure to do your homework about the organization, its culture, and its people.
Meet and Greet Everyone
Successful business relationships are birthed from strong communication skills and a positive energy. During your internship, your managers and coworkers will be immersed in project deadlines. If the company is a large one, most will likely not even notice you. Take the initiative to walk up to people and introduce yourself. Display a positive and affable personality while you're there and regardless of who you are meeting with, whether it's the CEO or the cleaning staff. Employers look for interns who aren't just technically proficient; they also want someone who fit the cultural brand of the company.
Keep Yourself Busy
Some employer will be reluctant to give you any serious work during your internship, and instead they'll stick you with the bare minimum. Sure, this will allow you to breeze through your day without having to stress yourself out, but it doesn't challenge you either. Avoid any idle time while you're doing your internship. Keep yourself busy by asking for new projects and volunteering to do any clerical work the business needs done. If you can't find any work throughout the day, see if you can find company literature or professional journals that you can read in a quiet corner.
Find a Mentor
Hone in on someone at the workplace and see if they can mentor you throughout the internship program. Each employee in the workplace has their own way of doing things. It can be tedious and confusing to learn how everyone does a specific task. Instead, use your first day to get a feel of who would make a good mentor and stick with them the rest of the program if possible. Professionals take pleasure in sharing their expertise and insights to inspiring interns and new industry players. As a mentee, avoid being too reliant on your mentor's instructions. Take the initiative in performing tasks and then ask a mentor, such as Jordan Rubin, for advice on how to proceed when you stumble on a roadblock.
Get Their Contact Information
Your professional relationships with the company's employees should not end right after your internship program. Ask for their contact information including email, LinkedIn handle, and business phone number. Ask for their permission to be listed as professional references when you do start applying for work. Having professional contacts will make it easier for you to get insider updates whenever a job position opens up.
Internship programs are a rare opportunity for valuable experience and insight into the industry you plan on pursuing. Make sure to make the most of it by following these five tips.