Sunday, March 20, 2011

Internships; The Path to a Great Job

By Julie Clark Robinson

Landing an internship in college isn't easy. Once you put forth the effort of securing a spot for yourself, make sure that you do your best while you are there. While a workplace can feel pretty intimidating compared to the classroom environment that you're used to, don't let your nerves get the best of you. Interns are mainly in place to observe and help out, so any mistake you make likely won't be an earth-shattering one. Here are a few ways to make your internship a good one:

1. Take mental inventory of those around you. As soon as you walk in the door on the first day, look around and take the pulse of what you see. Are the employees comfortable and easy-going as they go about their business? Is the environment formal and quiet? Do your best to match the tone of those around you and blend in.

2. Manners are (always) everything. It's the common courtesies in life that seem to make a difference in how you are perceived. No matter whether your internship tasks put you in the path of the CEO or the guy who comes in and waters the plants once a week, give a pleasant smile and be polite at all times. You never know who will be asked about your performance down the road.

3. Interns don't turn down any tasks. If you're working directly with an advertising media director, for example, you might be asked to run a lot of errands rather than learning the nuances of a network media buy for the Super Bowl. By all means, run those errands with a smile. Pick up some coffee while you're at it. You get the idea, you are there to learn, but you're also there to make a good impression and perhaps get your foot in the door later. The Super Bowl can wait.

4. Before you leave, ask your supervisor about the possibility of a full-time position after you graduate. Wouldn't it amazing to avoid the stress of looking for your first job once you earn your degree? Networking opportunities, or even securing positions, is one of the major benefits of internships. Even if you weren't exactly thrilled with the work after having spent time there, inquire anyway. It shows that you are serious about your future. If you loved the experience and they loved you, they might just create a position for you.

After you return to your life as a college student, don't let too much time go by before you send out thank-you notes. Send one to whoever was helpful to you on your internship. Not only is it the right thing to do, every one of these people can be part of your networking team down the road. Keep in touch with them as you move toward your college degree and it could really help you as you start your job search.

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