First off, congrats! This will be an awesome experience for you. One that, I hope, you’ll look back on with much fondness. I was the PR intern for the CFL in 2011. I learned a lot about the PR and communications industry, social media and community building, office cultures and myself. Over the past few years I’ve been an intern and worked alongside numerous interns and have come up with the following list of important characteristics to exhibit throughout your internship.
Be a sponge.
There’s no better time than your internship to absorb as much information, knowledge, experience and advice as you can. You’re surrounded by experts in the field who can feed into you and turn you into a pro. Ask questions, go out for coffee with managers, shadow your boss. Be ready to learn.
Introduce yourself to everyone.
Fellow interns, coordinators, managers, executives. If you’re hoping to earn a full-time position after your internship is complete, it’s important that everyone in the organization knows you, or at least recognizes you. These are the people that will vouch for you later.
Slow down, think logically, then ask questions.
It is amazing what happens when people become interns. Every day they are given tasks and instructions. They’re guided through processes. They’re “bossed” around. They’re told what to do. It tends to be assumed they don’t know what’s going on and that they can’t think for themselves. After being treated like this for a while, do you know what happens? They start believing they don’t know what’s going on. They lose self confidence. They stop thinking logically, rationally and independently. They ask unnecessary questions or fail to make decisions for themselves. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else. Now, asking questions during your internship is not a bad thing. In fact, I encourage it. When you ask questions, you learn. Before you ask a question, however, take some time to think about whether you know the answer. Have you been in this situation before? What were you told to do when you encounter this problem? You are smart. You earned this internship. Now, start acting like it! Showing logic, initiative and good decision-making skills will set you apart.
Humble yourself. Be willing to do anything.
It’s important to show your boss that there isn’t anything you aren’t willing to do. Run an errand. Work on a project for another department. Do a favour for a different manager. Volunteer to arrive early or stay late. Always lend a helping hand to any co-worker. This eagerness will catch attention and serve you well in the long run. These are the types of people they will want to hire.
Build friendships with other interns.
Your internship isn’t just about impressing your superiors. Take advantage of any opportunities to hang out with your fellow interns. They are your peers. They are the ones you are entering the industry with. They will serve as valuable referrals when job opportunities arise.
Continue to network.
The journey isn’t over just because you’ve landed an internship. Take this time (during your non-work hours) to continue to network with professionals in your industry, go on informational interviews and seek out potential next-steps following your placement. This will help the transition into full-time employment go much smoother.
You’re going to rock your internship!
I’d love to hear where you are working and how it’s going.