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Making the Most of Your Internship

Congratulations on getting an Internship!  You have taken the first step in obtaining real world experience.  It is important to make the most of this opportunity.  Making a difference in an internship will set you apart from the rest and show your employer that you are a top performer.

An internship is very different from your college environment.  You may be accustomed to learning at your own pace and having structured assignments.  Your internship will force you to learn more quickly.  Below are some tips on how you can excel.

Professionalism

You are in a professional environment and should dress accordingly.  Take a look around the office, consider how your manager and other leaders are dressed and make it a point to dress similarly. Conduct yourself with maturity and professionalism at all times.  This includes when you are at lunch, in the elevator, on the phone, etc.  When at an out of office work environment, do not get intoxicated or too personal.  Many interns go wrong in thinking that they can let loose.  Avoid office gossip and politics.  Don’t use social media at work.  Be observant; keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.  Get to meetings on time, even if everyone else is consistently late, you should be punctual.

Attitude

Always maintain a positive, “can do” attitude.  Whether you have a challenging or boring day, stay positive and don’t get discouraged. Maintaining a positive attitude is key to a successful internship experience.  Be enthusiastic and do your best on every task you are assigned.  Demonstrating a cheerful and energetic attitude toward all of your work will prove impressive to your supervisors and potentially lead to more challenging tasks.  Ask your supervisor if you might sit in on a few inter-departmental meetings and seek out opportunities to observe various members of your organization.

Initiative

Take ownership of any project you have been delegated.  Make sure you know your manager’s expectations and ask questions to clarify if needed.  Keep to the deadline and avoid asking for an extension.  If you cannot meet the deadline, go to your manager in advance to explain why you need more time and how much more time you need.  Find a balance between asking questions and figuring out things on your own.  Use the skills you’ve developed coupled with your common sense. 

Be an Active Learner

Be inquisitive; ask questions and generally cultivate your curiosity about the organization and industry.  Demonstrate your interest by seeking to learn as much as possible about the role of your department in the organization as a whole and how your company figures in the industry at large.

Network

Get connected to Bentley’s LinkedIn Community.  The Bentley University Alumni LinkedIn Community  enables you to access the professional knowledge and experience of your fellow alumni. To join, go to www.linkedIn.com and search for – Bentley University Alumni group.  It takes just minutes to get connected to the latest career network building site.  Be a part of the LinkedIn community and realize the power of networking!  Become part of the office and the culture by participating in office events such as going out to lunch or intramural sports teams.  Show that you are a team player.  Seek out a mentor.  Identify rising stars in your department and learn from them.  They are who you want to be someday.

Build your Portfolio

Keep track of projects you were assigned and keep copies of non-proprietary work you complete.  This is a great way to show a potential employer what you did rather than just talk about it.  Tangible projects can include presentations, press releases, advertisements, flyers and direct mail pieces that you had a major role in developing and writing.  Keep a log of accomplishments; this will help you when preparing for interviews.  You can easily articulate examples of when you worked in a team, showed leadership, displayed communication skills, etc.  Ask your supervisor for a letter of recommendation that you can include in your portfolio.

Remember, an internship can possibly lead to a full time position.  Use your time to learn about the company and think about your future goals.  Also, your performance could open the door for other Bentley students by building a positive relationship with that company.