Sure, we all want to be CEO. But sometimes the way to the top is paved by thankless (and even payless) jobs. The nastiest of these in some ways is the internship. But what’s nice about the internship is that, unlike a low-level full time job, an internship is meant to be a temporary learning experience. In return for doing some unpleasant grunt work, the people hosting an internship are supposed to provide you with insight into the higher-level workings of the organization or the industry itself. So here are the top five tips for making the most out of your internship.
(1) Be a Sunny Face – Everyone loves the person who wanders around the office with a smile. Every time you meet a new person, greet them with a firm handshake and a smile. And every time you bring the boss those papers he needed copy, smile (though not creepily) and ask him how he’s doing. People want to be around people who are pleasant to be around. People in the office are more likely to spend more time with you, giving you an opportunity to learn more, or even to consider hiring you in the future if they like you. And always, always, be polite.
(2) Do your Research - Spend your off time learning everything you can about the industry and the company itself. The more knowledgably you can talk to a person, the more likely they are to be impressed by you and trust you with more important assignments. You will also be able to learn more during your internship if you are fully informed about the background of the work you are doing.
(3) Write Down Everything – Every tiny, petty thing you do needs to be written down. Every time you call a person, even if you have called them before, write down their number. Every time you talk to a secretary in another firm write down her name. No matter how small it seems, there needs to be fully accountable for everything done in an office. You never want to be caught later saying that you don’t remember when you last handled a file that has gone missing, or that you can’t understand why someone said you told them something you swore you didn’t. Also, this way, when you ask for a recommendation, you can bring up specific accomplishments, since they will all be written down. Suggesting to your boss that she might want to mention in a recommendation something awesome you did that she already forgot can be helpful to the both of you.
(4) Be Professional – Dress at the same level as everyone else in the office. Don’t get caught gossiping, don’t hook up with coworkers, and don’t waste your time (and the company’s time) on Facebook. This way, you prove to your supervisors that you can handle tough assignments and can be brought along to important meetings without embarrassing them.
(5) Ask Questions – While your boss doesn’t want to be harassed constantly about the minutiae of her work, she will be impressed by your initiative and interest if you take the time to ask insightful questions. As an extra bonus, not only will you learn more, but you will do a better job! Especially if an assignment is a little over your head, ask. Better to be a bit of a nuisance now than screw everything up later and have everyone have to do extra work to fix it later.
And, a bonus sixth tip! (6) Play the CEO Game and other business simulations. This way you can get more business experience when you’re at home in order to wow your bosses at work. The CEO Game is the most realistic business simulation out there — it an essential tool to a successful internship.
The CEO Game.