Some call me the internship queen: I’ve interned at 4 companies over the course of my college career. Perhaps I’m a workaholic or perhaps I’m petrified over the fact that it’s highly likely that I’ll be stuck with a degree in Communication this December and have no job offers. My anxieties aside, I’ve done a lot of internships and I’m here to tell you the things I’ve learned.
For starters, internships are about you and your learning experience. You are not there to do menial, mundane tasks for your boss. You’re there to gain real experience in your field and to execute the theories that you’ve learned in the classroom. Internships can be an extremely effective complement to your studies if you allow them to be.
In order to grasp the full experience of your internship, here are some things I recommend doing before you peace out:
1. Ask for a letter of recommendation
Chances are, your employers are looking for an opportunity to be a mentor and to teach you something. Take full advantage of this. They want to you to go off and be successful, otherwise, they would have never hired you. More than likely, they’ll be happy to help you get a great job (if they don’t hire you out of your internship) and write you a sparkling recommendation that you can use when you apply for jobs in the future.
2. Ask for some constructive criticism
You’re not perfect. No one is. Ask Hannah Montana. Chances are, there are some things that your supervisor really liked about you and some things they thought you could do better. In order to really get the best experience, you have to ask how you could have improved. So, swallow your pride and take everything they say with a grain of salt. What they tell you can help you be a better employee in the future.
3. Write a “thank you” letter
One extremely important part of networking, especially in these early stages of your career, is (for lack of a better term) kissing a lot of ass. Make sure you take the time to tell you supervisor that you appreciated working for them and that you learned a lot from them. The art of writing thank you’s is scarce nowadays – especially handwritten ones – so they will appreciate the gesture. (P.S. I love stationery from Rifle Paper Co. – so cute!)
Another vital part of networking is to keep up with your contact’s lives. Add your coworkers on LinkedIn and/or Facebook and make sure you foster those budding business relationships. You never know where someone will end up or who they may now. My advice is always be nice to everyone, because you never know how that person is going to impact your future.
5. Ask your boss to look over your resume
Let’s face it, we don’t know everything. After one internship, my boss spent two hours with me improving my resume. They are there to help you grow and learn, much like your professors, so take advantage of every opportunity while you still can. Additionally, they probably have looked at millions of resumes before, so they can help you craft your resume so that it floats to the top of their list.
6. Think about what you have learned, what you liked, what you didn’t like, etc.
Completing an internship is like dating, except with your career. You have to figure out what you like before you commit for the rest of your life. Think about the kind of work you have done and if you think you could do that for the rest of your life. Also, think about the environment you were in: do you like a more structured environment or a creative environment? Remember, having a career isn’t just about making money, it’s about being happy. Don’t let yourself be trapped in a job you hate for the rest of your life.