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6 Ways to Succeed at Your Internship

Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re looking for a way to stand out during your internship.  The good news is that you’re already halfway to becoming a better intern by searching for a way to improve yourself.  Employers are always looking for motivated individuals with a strong work ethic, and with a little hard work and dedication you can be the intern that stands out from the rest.  Here are the six things that you can do in order to succeed at your internship:

  1. Prepare Yourself.  Whether you’re getting ready for the first day at your internship, or you’re already weeks in to working; preparation is the key to success no matter what type of internship you have.  You may need to find out information on transportation to work, or maybe you need to research a new client coming in to the office.  Prepare before it happens.  In other words, understand your industry.  In order to be successful, it’s important to be prepared for any questions that your supervisor (or anyone else) may ask of you in different situations.  Forbes contributor Michael Matthews surveyed a room full of HR Directors and noted “There are definitive steps interns can take to increase their chances of landing a salary. What’s number one? Knock the chip off your shoulder.” Before you even step foot into your internship on day one, make sure you are well prepared and eager to learn; that will lead you on the road to success. You can read a more in-depth look at Michael Matthews’ important steps to take as an intern with his Tips For Internship Preparation.

  2. Take Initiative.  If you feel like you could be doing more than just making coffee runs while you’re at work, don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor to challenge you with other tasks.  And if you are only making the coffee?  Go above and beyond to make the best cup of coffee possible.  Any job can be completed, but if you put in the effort to complete your task better and better each time, people will start to notice you.

  3. Communicate with everyone.  Richard Branson famously gave the story for how he started Virgin Airlines by having his flight to the Virgin Islands cancelled, so he gathered up money from the other flight passengers and booked a charter flight with them to his destination.  He saw the problem and found the solution by communicating with the others around him.  You can do the same thing.  While you’re not exactly creating your idea for the next billion dollar business (and maybe you are) you can use Richard Branson’s story as a model for how to operate at your internship.  Communicate with others, use teamwork to accomplish your tasks and everything will go much smoother during the time at your internship. You’ll thank yourself down the road for making these connections too, as they could help you with a future position within the company or anywhere else in life.

  4. Adapt to your work culture.  Have you never used Twitter before?  You had better learn quickly if this is what your job requires.  Many new interns can be prone to failure due to the fact that they don’t adapt to the culture of their new internship.  Don’t be stuck in your ways.  If tasks were accomplished differently at a past internship, it’s best to learn quickly how they’re done at your current internship.  Change can be difficult, but if you take the time to adapt to your work culture by asking questions and taking notes, you should be well on your way to making a name for yourself.

  5. Set your own goals.  Write down a list of what you hope to accomplish during your internship.  Keep it at your desk or by your side to remind you of how far you’ve gone and what other goals you’re looking to meet.  You can also talk to your supervisor and set weekly or monthly follow up meetings to track your growth.  By doing this, you’ll not only have a visualization of your growth, but your supervisor will see you’re trying to improve yourself every day.  This will certainly make you stand out while working at your internship, and you’ll thank yourself for setting goals when it’s all said and done.

  6. Be responsible.  Be on time, take your internship seriously and give your best attitude and performance at all times.  Employers are looking to hire for full-time positions, and they often look within the company to hire the interns who are willing to go above and beyond.  

If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to not only succeeding at your internship, but you’ll be setting yourself up for growth in the future.

Clayton Wert is a Career Coach and Internship Advisor at Dream Careers, the leading internship program for college students. Clayton advises college students on how to land internships at the best companies in Los Angeles.