Internships are sometimes hard to find, and finding a paid internship can be like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. More and more companies are paying interns a normal wage because they are using the internship as a really long interview.
Companies love the opportunity to see your work ethic and how you handle yourself on the job. Interns love being able to work at a company with the goal of joining them as a regular employee.
Make sure that you research the company before joining them because there are some tricky situations out there. If it is paying straight commission or in someone’s house or no one will answer questions about what you will be doing, it isn’t an internship. It’s something, but it’s not an internship.
After you’ve found a great company where you might be able to secure a job after graduation, go for it. The next step is to make yourself essential so that they want you to stay or come back. How do you do that? Here are a dozen ways to shine as an intern.
- Be. On time. Always. There are no excuses for being late that anyone wants to hear. If you say traffic, hey, there’s always traffic. You need to leave earlier. If you just couldn’t get to bed last night, don’t tell us. Just be on time. Always.
- Be There: Absences are just ridiculous when you have such a short time to impress. Don’t party all weekend and call in sick on Monday. Don’t text to say that you’ll be late or absent. Don’t call extra early and leave a voice mail. Take ownership of the problem and follow the rules. If you are going to go somewhere other than work, don’t post it on social media.
- Be Positive. No negativity. No tantrums. Oscar the Grouch is the only grouch that people love. Even Oscar might be hard to manage if you had to work with him every day. Don’t complain. Don’t complain about office issues, personal issues or the food. Complainers drive companies nuts.
- Be polite. Don’t discuss anything that is too personal. Remember the old saying that one doesn’t discuss religion, sexual orientation or politics. You can cause more problems with these subjects than any others. Watch your language, too. Cursing is not acceptable.
- Be careful about your new friends. Sometimes they are making quick friends with you to pull you into an ongoing argument that they have with management. If they start badmouthing managers, run away. Don’t gossip or listen to people who do.
- Be friendly. Once you start understanding who does what for whom, you can begin asking questions that help you do an even better job. When people like you, they are going to be very helpful. If you are invited to a party where alcohol is served, by all means go. If you are over 21, have a drink. One. You don’t want to be the intern that gets talked about for years and years because you were over-served and acted irresponsibly.
- Be a team player. Don’t act as if you are just there temporarily. When you talk about the company, be possessive: it’s our company. Jump into every assignment and do your very best. Continue to research the industry so that you’ll be knowledgeable.
- Be willing. If you are asked to do something that seems beneath you, smile and do it. Copy things, file things, and do what you’re asked. If you do a good job with small things, they’ll trust you with bigger things. If you are helpful to your colleagues, they’ll love you.
- Be aware. Pay attention to everything and be alert. If you are addicted to checking messages and texting, stop right now!! Using earbuds and playing with your phone are disastrous to your career.
- Be dressed appropriately. You are at work. You are not at the beach. If you think flip flops reflect your personality, wear them when you get home. Watch what your coworkers wear and follow their lead. Clothes that are too tight or revealing can label you.
- Be awake. It seems silly to even say it, but sometimes a late night and early morning can leave us all sleepy. Do whatever you need to be awake and alert because sleeping at your desk is not going to win you a permanent job!
- BE THE BEST! This is your chance to shine and show everyone what a great asset you are.