1. Meet and Greet with Everyone You MeetSuccessful work relationships require excellent communication skills as well as a positive attitude. Your supervisors and co-workers may be immersed in projects and deadlines and not take notice that you are new to the organization; so make sure you take the initiative to introduce yourself and exhibit a positive and friendly attitude to everyone you meet, from the janitor to the CEO.
2. Do Your ResearchMake it a point to do research and learn all you can about the company and industry. Your Career Services Office at your college is an excellent place to start. You can also write directly to a company for information, engage in informational interviews, contact the local Chamber of Commerce, and read local newspapers and business publications to find out more about an organization.
3. Set Personal Goals and Keep Yourself BusySet personal goals that you want to achieve during your internship and ask your supervisor for things to do. If you find that your work is done, ask for new projects or look to read company literature and/or professional journals. Goal setting is especially important for interns - to ensure that you gain the relevant skills employers are seeking when hiring future full-time employees.
4. Read Professional Trade Journals & MagazinesKeep up on employer information and read what the professionals are reading. Learn more about your employer, their competition, and additional information about the industry in general. Are there new trends or is there something exciting currently happening in the field? Internship success requires motivation and a true desire to learn more about the industry. Successful interns take the initiative to learn as much as possible during the short duration of their internship experience.
5. Be Prepared to do Some Grunt WorkTake the smaller tasks in stride and keep your mind focused on the big picture. You may need to make some coffee or do some filing at some point but if making coffee and filing takes up the majority of your day, it's time to speak with your supervisor about your goals and expectations of the internship. One way way to avoid this situation is to make an agreement prior to the internship outlining your responsibilities. Remember there are menial tasks included in all jobs and pitching in and doing your share will establish better teamwork and goodwill among co-workers.
6. Ask QuestionsTake advantage of your student status and ask questions about everything you don't understand. Employers believe that students who ask questions are motivated and really want to learn all they can about the industry. As an intern, employers do not expect you to know everything about the job or industry. Internships are a great learning experience and the more questions you ask the more you will learn about the job and how the industry operates.
7. Find a MentorLearn from those you admire and develop mentoring relationships you can continue long after your internship has ended. Professionals enjoy sharing their expertise and want to assist new professionals entering the field. A good mentor is someone who is willing to share their knowledge and expertise and wants to see their mentee succeed in the field.
8. Be ProfessionalMaintain a professional image and avoid gossip and office politics. Maintain a positive and professional image both inside and outside the office. Maintaining professionalism while interning also means making efficient use of your time by avoiding the use of company time for personal phone calls and emails.
9. Develop Professional RelationshipsCommunicate with supervisors and co-workers and keep yourself in the loop of office communications. Professional relationships are key in starting a successful career. Throughout your career a professional network will help you to learn of new opportunities and offer ways to advance in your field.