Tips for Internship Success

Your internship experience is one of the most important pieces of the foundation you are laying for a successful career. Since the professional world can be very different from university life, it is important that you have an understanding of some of the differences. Use these tips to help you make the most of this valuable experience.

Be Easy to Work With

  • Clarify expectations about the internship: both the employers and yours. It is a good idea to agree upon your job responsibilities in writing.
  • Take advantage of the transition time at the beginning of your internship and ask lots of questions.
    • You are not expected to know what is going on right away, but the faster you learn the ins and outs of daily life on the job, the better off you'll be.
    • Meet regularly with your supervisor to ensure that both of your expectations are being met. This is a good way for you to get feedback on your performance and helps to keep you on track with current and future assignments.

Communicate Clearly and Kindly

  • Focus on your communication skills, both written and verbal.
    • Proofread your written work carefully. When communicating with your coworkers choose respectful, tactful, and professional language at all times.
  • Accept assignments graciously,  and ask for clarifications if you don't understand something.
    • Notify your supervisor when assignments are completed, and turn out good quality work. Listen carefully to instructions and ask for clarification.
    • Learn to work as a team; be respectful of input from other team members and practice the art of compromising.

Learn the Workplace Culture and Norms

  • It is important for you to dress, speak, write, and generally behave like a professional.
    • Shake hands, make eye contact, smile, and be friendly and confident. Be observant and ask questions about appropriate behavior at the work place.
    • Different organizations have different expectations regarding employee behavior and it is important that you learn about and conform to the corporate culture. This can include issues such as appropriate clothing, demeanor with customers, personal phone calls, and where to park your car.
    • When in doubt, be more conservative and/or ask a colleague what people normally do.
  • Show up to work on time, when you are expected.
    • Always call or email if you are going to be sick or late. Don't be sick or late often. Choose your sick days with care; it will be noticed if you are not at work on important days.
    • Be friendly, polite, helpful, and sensitive. It's good to talk with your coworkers and get to know them but beware of gossiping and complaining. Be careful about bringing personal business to work, and be sure that what you do discuss is appropriate and not too personal in nature.

Leave On a Good Note

  • When you leave, be sure to thank your colleagues and supervisor for the time spent working together. 
  • Ask your supervisor if it's ok to keep in touch so that you can call upon him/her later when you are in need of a reference. This will also help your supervisor keep you in mind when future opportunities arise.

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