Adulting is hard, but you don’t have to go into it unprepared. Internships are basically a trial run of the real world. Getting the position is difficult, but making the most of the internship can be even harder. These are some things I’ve learned from my eight weeks in an office as an intern.
1—Dress well; feel good. Every office has a different atmosphere and different expectations when it comes to attire. It doesn’t hurt to ask someone before starting the job, but it’s usually safe to wear business casual for the first couple of days. Use these days to observe what everyone else is wearing before you go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. However, business casual doesn’t have to mean boring. Add something fun to your outfit to make you actually want to get out of bed in the morning. Shoes with a bit of shine will help you embody the spirit that many employers expect from their interns. If you feel confident, your work and attitude will show it, and your coworkers will notice.
2—Explore the area. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who lives fifteen minutes from the office, but the rest of us are commuters. Commuting is painful. There’s no denying it, so you may as well make it worth the trip. Whether it’s taking the long way to work or just taking your lunch break outside, take advantage of what’s outside the office. Finding cute coffee shops is just an added bonus!
3—Save, save, save! If you hit the jackpot with a paid internship, the biggest challenge is not spending all of your hard-earned money. Adulting is hard, and you should be able to have something to show for your hard work. The easiest way to save is to bring your coffee and lunch from home. If you are tempted to try all of the local spots, limit yourself to buying lunch only once a week as a reward.
4—Networking is key. Making as many connections as possible will be extremely beneficial in the long run. These are the people who can either vouch for you to be asked back by the company or can provide you with more connections for other opportunities. Ask people in and out of your department if they have time to sit with you for twenty minutes. You can chat with them about what they do, their past experiences, and their current advice over coffee.
5—Learn as much as possible. This goes without saying, but beyond getting to add another notch to your resume, you should actually be learning from this experience. Many people don’t have the opportunity that you have right now, so soak in the experience. Ask questions, sit in on every meeting, journal everything; these are all things that will benefit you in the long run, regardless of where you end up.
What are some of your tips for making the most of an internship? Let us know in the comments below.