Back to the Drawing Board

10 Tips to Help Make
Your Internship a Success

After my bad experience in fashion, it was back to the drawing board, but had a better idea of what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” At this point, I was a junior in college and would declare my major in communications at the end of the year. Communications seemed like the perfect fit for me – I could still go into business with a communications degree and I was a strong writer, so I began applying for communications or marketing internships.

One marketing internship I found really excited me, and I was given the opportunity to interview for it. Unfortunately, after making it through four rounds of interviews, I didn’t get the internship and I was crushed. However, I remained close with my recruiter and a few weeks later, she reached out about another summer marketing internship, which I interviewed for – and got!

Lesson learned: keep your friends close, and your enemies recruiters closer.

If I hadn’t stayed in touch with my recruiter, who knows if she would have reached out to me with another opportunity (btw, we still keep in touch!)?   

Anyway, my first internship in marketing was life changing and taught me a few really important lessons:

  1. Make a list of all the people you met during your internship. Include their name, title, and their email. This way, you can continue to stay in touch with them after your internship is over by sending them a message every few months to wish them a happy Thanksgiving, holiday season, or to catch up. By staying in touch, you are leaving the door open to future opportunities. Would you want to do someone a favor who hasn’t talked to you in months or years? Yeah, didn’t think so.
  2. No one is too busy to make time for you. During my first internship, I was given the opportunity to meet with one of the top executives at the company, and I was nervous as nervous as I could be. One of the first things I told her was how grateful I was for the opportunity to meet with her, and how I knew how busy she was; I couldn’t thank her enough for taking time out of her busy day to meet with me. I thought she was going to thank me for praising her for her time, but instead, she told me, “no one is too busy to make time for you.” This really stuck with me and was another reason why I chose to write this blog: to give back. Everyone needs to start somewhere, and if you have the power to lift someone up, you should.
  3. Be proactive. If there is someone at your internship that you admire or want to meet with, let your manager know. They’ll either schedule a meet and greet for you, or tell you to reach out to them to schedule time to learn more about them and what they do.
  4. Don’t be afraid of titles. As a professional, you need to adapt your behavior to the environment you’re in. At some point, you will find yourself in a meeting with someone whose title intimidates you, but at the end of the day, people are people. If you find yourself stuck in the elevator with the CEO and want to introduce yourself, then you should – I have, and I don’t regret it. Although they might not have made the introduction, they’re probably very happy that you did; a good leader should want to meet and hear from the members of their organization.
  5. Dial 9 and then 1 to call outside of the office. Go ahead, laugh, but no one told me that you needed to dial 9 and then a 1 when trying to make a phone call outside of the office… so it took me forever to make a phone call. You’ll thank me for this later if your manager forgets to tell you this.
  6. Read, read, and reread everything – especially your emails. If you want to make a name for yourself as someone who produces great work, then make sure you proofread it. I cringe at spelling errors in emails and drafts I see, and often find myself wondering, “How the heck did they get this job?” or better yet, “How the heck did they graduate high school?” Make sure you address people by their first name and spell it correctly, and know the different between words like “your and you’re” “it’s and its” “there, their, and they’re.” Puhlease.
  7. Google it. If you have a question, before asking your manager or team member, try googling it first. Don’t waste their time if this is something you can easily find on your own. Prove you can do things independently and don’t need your hand held. I learned to “Google it” from a mentor that I’d ask grammatical and Adobe questions to in my first job out of college. To make me a stronger writer and a more independent person, this was the answer he gave me until he knew I got into the habit of looking things up first. Although it was annoying at the time, since I knew he could give me the answer in a blink of an eye, I couldn’t be more grateful he made me learn the hard way.    
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I know this may be contradictory to number seven, but the purpose of an internship is to grow and develop your skills, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask why something is done a certain way, what certain company jargon means, etc. Speak up.
  9. Be your own champion. No one is going to advocate for you the way you are going to advocate for yourself. If you have the potential to turn your internship into a full-time job, then show your manager why they should hire you. Before my internship went to full-time, I consistently put in the hours, made the connections, and produced great work, so when it came time to hire me, the decision was easy.
  10. Note your job responsibilities, as well as your accomplishments. Make updating your resume or LinkedIn easy – keep a running list of your responsibilities and what you’ve accomplished in your internship, so you don’t miss anything.

Find these tips helpful? Let me know, and tell me what important lessons from your internships/jobs by commenting below!

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