Whether you’re pursuing a career in public relations, nutrition, physical therapy, or any range of professions, one of the best things you can do for yourself is find an internship. Internships not only give you vital job experience, but also get your foot in the door at a company you could potentially work for full-time in the future.
At the University of Kentucky there are many resources for finding internships, including the Stuckert Career Center (www.uky.edu/careercenter), but what should you do once you’ve found an internship? Follow the tips below to make sure that it is a positive experience for both you and your employer:
- Research it beforehand. Before you accept an internship, make sure that it is a good fit for you. Find out what your duties would be and make sure that they align with you career goals—while many internships may include aspects like getting coffee and making copies, be sure that you also get to help with actual work projects.
- Be professional. Even if you do not get paid as an intern, your internship is a job. Do not miss it if it isn’t absolutely necessary. Treat your co-workers with respect, and be sure to write all correspondence professionally.
- Work hard and get noticed. Do not only do what is asked of you; go above and beyond when possible. Internships are a wonderful place for networking. Even if the company does not later hire you full-time, the people with whom you worked are good connections and can provide you with referrals.
- Ask questions. Questioning is one of the best ways to learn. Let people know if you don’t understand something. Be sure that you are doing what is asked of you to the parameters specified.
- Ask for more responsibility if you want it. More often than not, companies are willing to give you more responsibility. The more varied your tasks are, the more experience you get, allowing you not only to boost your resume, but also to make sure that this is the right career for you. If you have ideas, speak up!
- Ask for honest feedback. Employers don’t expect you to come into an internship knowing everything and working perfectly right away. Internships are a learning process.
- Pay attention to office culture. Do you fit in? Could you see yourself working in this type of environment full-time? Do you feel comfortable?
- Work carefully—double check things. Your internships aren’t like a class, where mistakes only affect you. Mistakes can be big problems and effect large parts of the company. Spell check, read through your work before it’s finalized, and generally pay attention to detail. If you do make a mistake, just be sure to fix it.
- Dress appropriately. Follow the office policy so that they know you are serious about your work. Be sure to ask your supervisor what the dress code is.
- Be organized. It is much easier to get work done when you know what you are doing. Buy a planner, keep track of your assignments and due dates. Always have a pen and paper ready because you never know when you’ll need to take notes.
- Meet deadlines. Deadlines are important and you are expected to meet them. Staying organized will help you with this—plan ahead and give yourself enough time to work on all of your projects far enough in advance that you will complete them ahead of schedule.
- Communicate. Too much communication is better than too little. Keep your boss and colleagues up-to-date on where you are with projects and let them know if you are having any difficulties. If you are having difficulties, people will help you if they know that you need it.
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