Accepting an internship is an exciting time – there’s the anticipation of new experiences and opportunities as well as some nervousness about getting a glimpse of daily life in whatever line of work interests you. While you can’t predict all the things that will happen, you can prepare yourself to get the most out of every opportunity. Here are seven things I wish I knew before starting my internship that might help you be successful!
If you can’t remember everyone’s name right away or mess up a tiny detail in your first-ever report, the whole world is not going to hate you. Everyone remembers their first day on the job! Project confidence and smile big – it’s going to be OK.
Ask more questions than the annoying kid at the front of your lecture hall. You are here to learn. Ask what floor the cafeteria is on like the office freshman you are. Ask about office lingo. Ask your leader if it’s alright to implement a new idea. Asking questions doesn’t make you look stupid; it shows that you are humble enough to admit what you don’t know yet intelligent enough to want to fix it.
Never Allow Yourself To Be Bored
Some days you will be so busy you never sit down. Other times, you might have an hour or two without anything on your to-do list. Don’t give in to the temptation to check your phone. Make sure you ask if anyone needs anything. If not, use this time to make yourself smarter. Ask your leader if you can use this time to take a free online course, learn a new software, work on your résumé or develop a new business strategy. Maybe this downtime will lead to the company’s next great idea! There is no such thing as “nothing to do.” Make yourself an asset to the company by constructing your own projects.
If the way something is being done around the office seems backwards to you, say something. There is a 99% chance that someone will think of you more positively for being observant. Bonus points if you come up with a way to fix the issue. You are a brand-new set of eyes: use this advantage.
Shadow Departments That Interest You
If you feel like you aren’t getting some of the exposure to business areas that you’re interested in, ask your boss or leader for a recommendation of who in your office does what you want to be doing. Want to learn more about marketing? Send that team an email and ask to sit in on a meeting. Make a connection and see if they need any help. You never know what you might learn. This is especially great if you don’t know exactly what you want to do. Shadow a variety of different jobs and see what suits you best!
Make Yourself a Leader
Unless you are the only intern in the office, you will inevitably embark on a group project adventure. That first couple of minutes while everyone throws out ideas and seems unsure of how to proceed is your time to shine. Volunteer to take on responsibilities and offer to schedule the next meeting. By becoming the project manager, you will make yourself the go-to person when your leader wants to know what type of progress has been made. You look good and instantly become more employable. Leadership skills, check.
Talk to Everyone
I mean everyone. Talk to your leader. Talk to your team. Schedule team outings or suggest that you all go out to lunch. Get to know people. Don’t just create a little friend group either. Push outside your comfort zone and meet new people every day. During my first internship, I made roughly 10 connections and I worked in an office of at least 80 people. The second time around, I worked in a larger office and had interviewed with, made friends with or introduced myself to over 100 people – many of whom turned into LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends and Instagram followers. If you become a friendly face in the office and aren’t scared of approaching people, you will be given more opportunities and get more done.
Going into an internship with the right mindset and go-get-’em attitude will not only help you get the most out of the experience, but it will also help your employer improve or implement things that long-time team members may be blind to. You’ll improve your chances of obtaining future employment or great recommendation letters.
If you’d like to experience an internship with the Quicken Loans Family of Companies, check out QuickenLoansCareers.com .
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