So you’ve done the hard part and secured an internship. Now what? An internship looks great on paper, but what you get out of it is what matters.  Below are some tips to help you make the most of your internship and future jobs.

Keep a positive attitude
As an intern, it is possible you may have some tasks that are less enjoyable than others. Make sure you keep a positive attitude throughout your experience.  The quickest way to ruin an internship is by being negative.  It is important to think about the big picture and your impact on the organization.

Learn the company and industry
An internship may be your first experience in a corporate business setting.  Take the time to fully understand the business and how it operates.  It’s also important to learn the “corporate culture” of the organization.

Ask questions and take initiative
An internship should be a learning experience for you. Use this opportunity to learn the ins and outs of your career field from experienced professionals.  Ask questions if you encounter unfamiliar things and be willing to take advice from those around you.  Employers also like to see employees who go above and beyond. Don’t be passive and wait for work to come to you. Sometimes your supervisors may not be aware of how quickly you can complete a task. A great way to stand out is to take initiative and to offer to work on additional projects that interest you. With an internship, you’ll get out what you put in.

Take notes
You are going to be learning a lot of new information, and you will want a way to keep track of it. Start a running list of everything you do during your internship, including all your projects and tasks. This will be very helpful when it is time to update your resume. It can also help your supervisor compose a strong letter of recommendation in the future.

Network, network, network
An internship is a great opportunity to expand your professional network and to make connections within your field of interest.  Try to meet as many people as possible, even those in different roles or departments. Learning about their career track and experiences within the company will give you more insight and may lead to future opportunities. Because after all, sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know.

Assistant Director of the Career and Student Employment Center at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Career Coach Specialist for The Workplace Coach

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