Make the most of your internship

It’s internship season. Many college students and recent grads will be putting on professional attire daily to test the waters in various working environments. Not all internships are created equally, of course. But here are 5 ways to put you in the driver’s seat of your experience and get the most out of these summer months.

1. Know What You Want To Get Out Of It.

The more specific you can be when defining your goals, the more likely you are to succeed. For a truly successful internship experience, be clear with yourself on what you hope to gain. It doesn’t have to be something monumental, but it does have to hold some meaning. It can be as simple as wanting to figure out if the industry you’re interning in is indeed the one you want to pursue a career in. If your goal is more skills oriented, be sure to talk to your manager about it so that s/he can help guide your work accordingly.

2. Ask For More.

Not all managers know how to deal with interns. Some may have never had interns before. Don’t leave the fate of your internship entirely in their hands. If you’re not busy enough, be proactive and let your manager know you can and want to handle more. If there’s truly nothing more for you to do in your current department, then ask to pitch in with another whenever time permits. Also, as stated above, if you haven’t done so, be sure your manager knows what your interests are and that you’re up for any challenge they hand you.

3. Play Nice With Everyone.

Remember, this is an important step on your journey to getting your first job after you graduate. In fact, many students are often hired by the companies they have interned for in the past. While your immediate manager may be the one to give you an actual reference, just about anyone you meet could potentially help you in your networking efforts down the road. It’s critical that you conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times. That also includes what you post on social media regarding your internship experience.

4. Hating It Doesn’t Mean It Was A Waste.

Not all internships will be amazing. In fact, some may turn out to be quite miserable. But learning what you don’t want in your job or work environment can be just as critical as knowing what you do want. Take it in stride, be thankful it’s not your real job and know it will end. Then make a mental checklist of the things you never want to experience again. Use this criteria as a point of reference when you start looking for a job after college.

5. Enjoy Yourself.

This is a special time in your life. You may not be in your dream job just yet, or your dream work environment for that matter, but try to have fun. The reality of work life stresses will be upon you soon enough. Make the most out of the opportunity, make friends and connections. No matter which way you look at it, there’s something to gain and well, it’s summer after all!