The summer is almost over. Are you making the most of your internship experience? It is easy to get caught up in the details of work and forget to reap the other benefits internships offer. If you are an unpaid interns this summer, this is even more important for you, because studies show that you are less likely to receive a job offer or better pay as a result of your unpaid internship. You need to make sure you get as much out of the time and energy you have invested in your internship this summer.
Here are a few things to think about:
1. Ask senior people to lunch and expand your network
If you have been meaning to meet that interesting VP but just haven’t gotten around to it, now is the time to ask her out for lunch, to learn more about her job, while you have an official role at the same company. This will help her to remember you when management starts thinking about whom they will make full-time offers to. And, just in case there are no full-time offers at your company, she might just know a colleague at another company who can hire you. Start to network where you have some connections.
2. Get feedback and secure future references
Take time to seek out feedback from anyone you worked for over the summer. Then request a recommendation. Connect with them on LinkedIn and ask them to write a recommendation for you. The more positive feedback from supervisors, peers, and team members you have, the more complete your LinkedIn profile is, and the more information prospective employers have about you when it comes time to look for a job next school year.
3. Learn as much as possible about the company
It is easy to focus on your task at hand, and forget to look at the big picture of what your company does. A good company will share more about what the mission and vision of the firm is and teach you about all aspects of the company, not just accounting or marketing, or whatever your specific internship position is. If your firm has not been proactive about this, you can be by meeting folks in other departments and seeking them out to learn about what they do. This demonstrates your commitment and interest in the company and will help differentiate you from all other job applicants. This also helps you decide if this is a place you will be happy to work full-time, after graduation.
4. Go above and beyond your day-to-day
Sometimes, an intern will get asked to take on a special project. You might decline in favor of spending time at the beach or beers with your friends after work. Extra initiatives are a great way to make a great impression on management. Don’t be afraid to take on extra responsibility, if it is there for the taking. One of my students just sent me an extra marketing analysis to review that she developed during her internship. She is sending it to her supervisors as a way to thank them for her internship. It is not something that they asked for, but it is a way of going above and beyond to show them what she can offer and how she can make a positive contribution, while she still has a few weeks left. The best companies hire want to hire the best people, and pro-active problem solvers are always very sought after.
What has worked well in your internship this summer? Share your experiences below.