Written by: Haley (she/her)
2 min read | Published: November 21, 2023
Many young professionals weigh the pros and cons of an internship while in college or after they graduate, but few may think of the experience as an interview. An internship is an opportunity to become familiar with a potential employer before making a career commitment. Read on to learn how you can use your internship to decide if you would enjoy working for an organization as a full-time employee while wowing your potential employer in the process.
The best way to enter an internship is to start off on the right foot! On your first day, be prepared to get to know who you will be working with for the duration of your internship. Make a positive first impression by introducing yourself, smiling and offering a handshake whenever possible. Come prepared to answer questions about yourself and your past experiences. Do your best to show your excitement for the opportunity to collaborate with your new colleagues and to work for the company, school or organization.
Once you’re there, continue to prove you are an asset to the team. Be consistent in showing up on time and ready to work. Offer your unique insight and ideas when applicable or appropriate. Through your actions, emulate your best professional self and show your potential future employer you’re worth hiring full time. Use this time to make connections with your new colleagues and take notes when you can to show you care about the work you are doing.
It’s also valuable to use your internship to evaluate the organization. Learn more about the workplace culture by fully immersing yourself in the experience. During an internship, you’ll have more opportunities than in a standard interview to ask questions while getting to know what your colleagues like and dislike about their work and the environment. Ask questions about full-time benefits and growth opportunities to see if they offer what you’re looking for in an employer. You never know how your internship experience will benefit you in the future, so it’s imperative to be kind and show appreciation throughout your time with the organization, even if you don’t plan to work for them.
No matter your future plans, end your time on a positive note. Write personal thank-yous to your mentors or supervisors as well as to anyone else you found helpful. This is especially significant if you connect with leaders within the workplace to continue your professional relationship and show your appreciation for their time. If you feel comfortable, ask for letters of recommendation before you leave. These can bolster your application should a full-time position become available where you’re interning or supplement job applications outside of the organization.
Let’s review some key takeaways to ensure you make the most of your internship experience. First impressions make a lasting impact. Come prepared with questions, as well as a pen and paper to take notes on your first day. Throughout the experience, show your appreciation to be there through words and actions. Show you are consistent by being on time, if not early. Ensure you keep track of your schedule and tasks for each day, so you come ready to do your job to the best of your ability. While completing an internship, ask questions and do your own research to determine if the organization could be a good fit for you long-term. Lastly, express gratitude, especially at the end of your program, to maintain a positive, long-lasting professional relationship.
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