How to Make the Most of Your Internship

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How do you make the most of your internship? Be sure to do what it takes, always arrive on time, and be ready to take notes. By following these three tips, you'll not only gain your boss's confidence, but you'll position yourself well to be taken on for a full-time job.

Maybe you’re about to graduate…or just graduated…or are looking to change careers. You probably have little to no experience in the field you’re interested in (how can you if every position requires “two to four years of experience”?), so what’s your best shot at getting into your industry of choice? Answer: an internship.

True, there are pluses and minuses with any job, including internships. In most internships, you won’t be paid and you’ll likely be assigned menial work. But look at it this way: you’ve got your foot in the door. Each day, you’re gaining experience, and each day, you’re making new contacts. So what’s the best way to make the most of your dream internship? Be sure to do what it takes, always arrive on time, and take notes.

Tip 1: To Make the Most of Your Internship, Do What It Takes

Don’t expect to receive an office as an intern. Your purpose there is not only to learn more about the industry, but to also ease the workload of full-time workers. When I interned for a small company, for example, I was assigned to write daily news articles, which was one of the full-time writer’s responsibilities. While this helped ease her workload, it also (more importantly) offered me the experience I so eagerly sought. Then, when I was offered a full-time position, I was able to begin work confidently and well-prepared, already understanding the company’s writing style.

What’s more, if you work hard, your boss will probably notice and begin to assign you more important responsibilities. If you’re interning at an advertising agency, for example, and your boss sees how hard you work assisting a copyeditor, he may assign you a writing task instead of your typical filing job.

In other words, gain your boss’s trust by working hard, no matter what the task. Doing what it takes as an intern can ultimately lead you to full-time work.

Tip 2: To Make the Most of Your Internship, Always Arrive on Time

It’s the little things that show your true character, and one way to prove that your character is good is to always arrive on time. This not only proves to your boss that you’re reliable, it also proves that you’re committed to your work and eager to learn about the industry. Someone who slips in ten minutes late every other day shows a lack of commitment and, ultimately, a lack of interest.

Tip 3: To Make the Most of Your Internship, Take Notes

Be a good listener and observer. How? By taking notes. If your boss is explaining a new program or process to you, don’t be afraid to take notes and ask questions. Remember, this is where you’re learning about the industry and gaining your “two to four years of experience.” How else will you learn unless you’re actively seeking information?

Also, observe other workers. At an ad agency, sit in on meetings if you can. Observe how brainstorming sessions go. You can even jump in, assuming you’re encouraged to do so by your boss.

Final Thoughts on Making the Most of Your Internship

Once you put these three tips into practice, you will begin to see results just like I did. Your hard work, dependability, and listening skills will surely be noticed by your boss, and because of that notice, you’ll be one step closer to turning your internship into a full-time job.
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