The internship phase of college is an exciting time. You are young and hungry but also inexperienced. You have plans for your ideal career path, yet a lot of uncertainty remains.
During an internship, you have a chance to test the waters of the industry you are looking to work in. If you dream of working for the company you landed an internship with, you will need to impress and stand out.
In this post, we’ll walk through how to make a good impression during your internship.
Importance of Impressing at an Internship
Internships are the bridge between college and your career. Nearly all entry-level positions require relevant experience and the best way to build up relevant experience is to intern for a company within your desired industry.
There are two layers to the hyper-competitiveness of internship programs. The first is landing the internship. The second is securing a job offer at the end of the internship. This post aims to help you with the latter.
For you, as a student, an internship offers you the opportunity to build experience, network with real professionals, and see if you even enjoy the work. For the company, internships act as tryouts for teams to scout who they would like to work for them.
During any given internship program, there may be hundreds of interns and only a handful of spots available. In order to avoid being forgotten or overlooked, you will need to catch eyes and make a good impression.
By impressing, you will accomplish a few important things:
- Your name and face will be memorable
- You will make it onto the list of interns hired
- Current employees may mentor you throughout your internship
Further reading to help out your internship endeavors:
10 Ways To Make a Good Impression as an Intern
1. Do your homework before and during the internship
The first thing you can do before your internship even starts is to do your homework. Understand what your internship entails and learn about the position, team, company, and industry.
Most of this information can be found on the company’s website, but you can find other resources as well. You can browse other websites, ask peers or alumni who have had the same internship, or ask the staff at your campus career center.
Learn enough so you can walk into your internship able to hold a conversation with the employees working there. Your knowledge and willingness to engage with the company/industry will impress.
2. Present yourself in the best light
Producing good work will obviously make a good impression, but how you present yourself can boost or hurt your impression on others. You should always aim to present yourself in the best light.
This includes hygiene, attire, attitude, body language, voice, email etiquette, etc.
You want to portray yourself as a professional with respect for yourself and those around you. In the workplace, you represent your team and your company. Be someone that anyone would be proud to be associated with.
3. Get out of your shell and mingle
Typical interns are shy when they arrive and remain that way throughout the internship. You are young, inexperienced, don’t know anyone, and can’t afford to dress as nicely as everyone else at the company.
Who cares about those things? Don’t allow that to keep you shy and in your little cubicle. Get out there and get to know people.
Chat in the office, tag along with coworkers at lunch, and go to company events. There are many benefits to this:
- You will form meaningful relationships and build your network.
- You will show your colleagues that you are confident and comfortable.
- Your time will be more enjoyable because of these interactions.
4. Show reliability and flexibility
As an intern scraping to land a full-time job, it will be assumed that you don’t know much. If your major is finance, you will know the basics, but you won’t know the things that a second-year analyst knows.
What you can bring to the table is reliability and flexibility. These two traits are imperative to have if you want to be hired. A team wants to know that they can ask you to do anything and you will be able to handle it.
Whenever you are given a task, ensure you produce good work and deliver it timely. Follow directions and pay close attention to details. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have these soft skills, the hard skills can be taught to you.
5. Ask questions and show interest
We just mentioned how, as an intern, you pretty much know nothing and that is expected. In the companies I have worked for, everyone appreciated when someone younger asked questions and showed interest. It showed us that the person wasn’t just there to collect a paycheck.
You should do the same during your 8-12 weeks interning. Ask thoughtful questions and absorb everything. You’ll gain knowledge and experience while also expressing interest and willingness to learn.
6. Take initiative and go the extra mile to add value
For the first quarter or half of your internship, you should closely follow directions and deliver what is asked of you. After you get a feel for your position and your team, you can begin thinking about how else you can add value.
If you identify an opportunity to add value, take initiative and work on something on your own. Avoid going through the motions week after week. When it comes down to it, companies want to hire individuals that add value. If you add value, everyone wins.
Even the littlest bit of value can impress your team. For example, you can streamline a process to make it better, faster, cheaper, etc.
If you can’t think of any ideas, ask someone else at the company. You can ask someone on your team “Hey, I really want to do something that adds value so I can show our boss. Do you have any ideas?”
I’m certain they will be willing to help you.
7. Listen, observe, and be coachable
Think of yourself as a sponge that soaks up everything. You should always be listening and observing. The workplace is much different than the classroom and what you read about in textbooks. Critical things you pick up by listening and observing include:
- How to interact with various people in the organization
- How people manage their time
- Expectations for the quality of submitted work
- Navigating office politics
- How to perform the job you are interning for
In addition, be someone that is coachable. If someone is teaching you or wants to mentor you, you should hear them out and be willing to take their advice.
Teams don’t want to hire someone that is stubborn or thinks they know it all. You want to be coachable and malleable so you can be molded into the best professional to help the team.
8. Be someone everyone wants to be around
Another way you can impress people is with your likability. When people have to work 40+ hours with others, they will unanimously prefer to work with individuals they like.
Contrary to the popular belief of interns, companies don’t simply hire candidates that have the best resume. While this does help, a big factor in being hired is whether the interviewers like you or not.
To boost your likability, focus on being kind, respectful, approachable, engaging to talk to, and personable. Don’t step on any toes or rub anyone the wrong way. Be someone that uplifts the atmosphere and not someone that is a drag.
If you need inspiration, identify people in the company that are spoken highly of. Model yourself after them.
The key with this tip is to stay consistent over the course of your internship. No off days. Bring it 100% every day.
9. Be confident and assertive (yet respectful)
Without being disrespectful and arrogant, you will want to be assertive and confident.
These two traits will impress the team you are interning with. This will separate you from the pack and show the team that you believe you belong.
When you speak, speak with conviction. Don’t be hesitant.
Of course, you don’t want to say things when you don’t know what you’re talking about. A pre-requisite to being confident is knowing your stuff, which goes back to tip number 1. Doing your homework and learning all you can will lead to confidence.
There are many forms of communication outside of the words you say and text you type. Confidence can send positive messages to your team.
10. Treat the internship like a real job
The final tip is to treat your internship like a real job. This sounds obvious, but many interns take their internships lightly.
You are working for a real company that has customers, investors, and employees to manage. You are also trying to land a job in the process. That alone should be enough motivation to treat the work with care and a sense of urgency.
As an intern, you want to gain experience and stand out to the rest of your team. By standing out, you increase the odds that you’ll be hired at the end of your internship.
There are many ways to impress. You can impress with your work, your personality, your appearance, and more.
Today, we shared 10 methods for you to use to your benefit. Good luck!