From setting a meeting with HR to introducing yourself to everyone, here are 7 things you should do the first two weeks of your internship. Taylor Henriquez
Congratulations, you made it through another year of school — or have recently graduated — and are about to begin your summer internship. After tweaking your resume, sending out cover letters and going through rounds of interviews, you can finally relax, right? Well, depends. If your goal is to secure a full-time position at the company, or receive a recommendation for future job opportunities, the first two weeks of interning can determine your potential for success. Chalk it up to a little thing called first impressions. So while your intern peers are still finding the restrooms and networking solely among themselves, take this window of opportunity to stand out by building relationships, identifying opportunities and creating solutions, and yes, brushing up on your Microsoft Office Suite skills.
Introduce yourself to everyone in your department.
Your manager will introduce you to the core team, but take the first couple of days to broaden your hellos to the wider department. If you’ve been introduced to your entire department, introduce yourself to the people on your floor and learn their roles. Bonus points if you strike up conversations across departments. Building these connections early on not only raises your profile, but also increases the likelihood of identifying mentors, receiving feedback on your growth, and gaining insight on the needs of the company. “Take advantage of the fact that everyone is really open to talking to the interns. Set up one-on-one meetings with as many people as you can while you’re here and keep in touch,” says Jade Hodge, a human resources generalist at A+E Networks in New York City.
Start the conversation with human resources now.
It’s common for interns to begin the “job talk” with the HR department in the final weeks of interning. But in that time, you’ll also be wrapping up projects, saying goodbyes, applying for jobs, or prepping for back to school. Schedule a meeting with your HR representative a week in to discuss your goals for the summer, such as a full-time position with the company, and understand the performance metrics you’ll need to meet for consideration if a position opens up.
Take notes and ask questions.
You’ll be invited to meetings to get familiar with the department and projects you’ll be working on. While you’ll want to be a superstar intern and come up with solutions to problems immediately, take a minute to listen and learn first. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. No one expects interns to know how to do the job 100% right during their first few weeks, so it’s important to make sure that you ask the questions that will help you get the job done right in the beginning,” Hodge says. Interning is as much a learning experience as it is a job.
Brush up on skills.
Interning comes with a certain amount of administrative tasks and position-based skills, like editing photos in Adobe Photoshop, evaluating metrics in Google Analytics, or inputting data into Excel spreadsheets, which yes, still exist. If you’re rusty on certain skills or have zero training, it’s important to get comfortable with such programs at the beginning of the internship. You can find classes and courses at online learning communities, such as Coursera, Skillshare, Lynda, and Udemy, some of which have free courses or a free introductory period. Dedicate time for learning before or after work.
Become a team player.
When trying to stand out among your intern class, there might be a tendency to start and complete tasks autonomously so you’ll receive the credit. But like in school, you’ll be expected to work on some projects in teams. And that’s a good thing. “The best work and ideas come from collaborating with people who bring a different viewpoint or perspective, making your ideas stronger and more foolproof,” says Emily Venizelos, a Los Angeles talent director at advertising agency, 72andSunny.
Think like an entrepreneur.
Even in the beginning, you’re bound to have periods of time where projects aren’t coming in fast enough. Aside from mentoring, managers are busy with their own workloads, so on slow days, take this opportunity to create projects for yourself. Think strategically on how to provide solutions to inefficiencies you may have caught while taking notes and asking questions. Managers will notice how you work in uncertainty, and are able to take the lead on your own.
Fail and keep it moving.
It will be important to acknowledge that at some point during the internship, you’re going to make mistakes. And that’s okay, often, failure means that you’re taking risks, as long as you move on and learn from it. “The ability to learn from failures or mistakes, implement checks and balances so that they don’t happen again, and allow yourself forgiveness, is key to a successful summer internship and to learning in life, in general,” Venizelos says.
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