If you've landed your perfect student internship, you're no doubt looking for some solid advice about how to keep it and be successful. If this is your first job, the office can seem like a scary place, and you may not know where to begin or who to talk to. If you follow these five tips, you'll be sure to fit right it and get the most out of your placement.
1. Shake hands
One of the best ways to make a great first impression is to introduce yourself with a firm handshake. It's easy to get caught up in an awkward “should I or shouldn't I battle" with yourself, particularly when meeting a large volume of people for the first time. As long as you remain consistent with your greetings, you will minimize awkwardness. It is also best etiquette to stand when being introduced to someone new who has come into your office or over to your desk. It is also important to do your best to learn names. You may no be able to remember everyone's names on the first day, but repeating their names after they are introduced is a surefire way to commit it to memory.
2. Take initiative and take risk
There will be many tasks and assignments that you are given that may not seem important, and some that are downright boring. This kind of work may also be easy for you, or at the very least not challenging. Too many interns realize that they can probably get by doing the bare minimum and are encouraged by the “grunt work" they are given. Keep in mind that in your first few weeks, no one knows exactly what you're capable of, and you'll need to prove yourself. If after a few weeks you still haven't been trusted with anything challenging, ask for something different; talk to other staff members about what they are doing and think of ways that you could help them. Supervisors will look favorably on your initiative and willingness to take risks as an intern.
3. Remember that you're learning
It's important to keep thinking of yourself as a student (even if you are well out of college) during your internship. This will keep you in the constant frame of mind that you're learning something new, even when it seems like you can't possibly be learning anything from a copy machine or a coffee maker. Have you stopped to read the document that you're copying? Or stopped to listen to what you're boss is talking about in his big meeting? If people trust you to be around information, you should feel free to ask about it. If you don't make an effort to ask questions, people will assume that you are bored and uninterested, and you'll most likely not be asked back.
4. Have fun
Even in the stuffiest of offices, it is important to be positive and have fun at your internship. Chances are there are others in the office who take some time during the day to unwind a little by gossiping about celebrities in the break room or making jokes. Spend your first few weeks feeling out what is appropriate and what isn't, and make some friends that you can joke with. If you have a positive attitude, the file room doesn't have to be so bad.
It is possible that your current internship may not be for you, but there is still potential for you to find a job after it is over. As long as you keep working hard, stick to deadlines and stay positive you will attract positive attention from some higher ups. Make it clear that you don't “not like" the position, but that it isn't necessarily the right fit. Hopefully that will lead to some discussion about what you are going to do next, and if you've done a good job most supervisors will be happy to pass your name on to another company or organization to which you might be better suited.
Follow this tried and true advice and your college internship could open doors to a career after graduation. Learn about student internships from Lisa Jenkins, a career writer for JobMonkey. She explains how important the intern experience is, and how to take maximum advantage. There's even information about internships abroad for those who want to really expand their horizons.