As you probably know, I’ve been interning for a company in the past couple months. I’ve been living the marketing intern life since January, and it’s hard for me to believe that it’s all going to be over in a few weeks (less than 3!). Over the past few months, I’ve learned the ins and outs of being an intern, and what it takes to be the best one there is.
Now, I’m not proclaiming myself to be the best intern ever (people at work, if you are reading this, please note that this is definitely not how I see myself!), but I do have a few tips to help you get the best experience you could imagine, most of them learned through trial and error. So, how do you become the best intern ever? With these tips!
There will probably be times when you’ll just be sitting there, waiting for your supervisor to assign you a task or a project (especially at the beginning of your internship). Or maybe you’ll be waiting for someone to answer your email so you can continue working on that project. But one thing that I learned early as an intern is that you should try to be proactive. Don’t wait for things to happen; make them happen.
Take the initiative
Don’t always wait for your supervisor to ask you to do something. If you can do something and you know it will have to be done eventually, just do it! I’m sure your supervisor and colleagues will appreciate it. Don’t hesitate to take the lead on a project if you think you can do it. It’s great experience and you can add it to your resume!
Don’t hesitate to ask questions
When I first started my internship, I was hesitant to ask questions to my supervisor. I mean, she’s so busy, I don’t want to distract her or keep her away from doing her work! The introvert in me thought I could just figure things out on my own. And while that’s not a bad reflex altogether, you have to get over yourself and ask questions when you’re blocked or don’t understand something.
Follow up with your supervisor often
If you have to remember anything about this post, let it be this. Honestly, I cannot stress this enough (and my supervisor would say the exact same thing!). Whatever your internship is, chances are your supervisor will let you handle quite a few projects, or will let you assist him or her with whatever he or she is working on. And if it’s something that might strain for a couple or weeks – months, even -, you have to let them know where you are at and how things are going.
A good way to do that is to copy them on all of your emails (emails that concern them or the projects they gave you, anyway). Like this, they can know what is going on and see how things are moving forward. This is a lot easier than forwarding them every answer you get!
Another effective way to do this is to set up weekly (or bi-weekly) update meetings with them. Block a good hour in both of your schedule’s every week and see how things are going. My supervisor and I have not done this enough, but I always feel so much better after our meetings! I get the answers that I need, sort out my priorities, and I can get her feedback on the work that I’ve done so far. If this is not possible for you, writing a weekly report to your supervisor or putting up a good update system with them (my supervisor and I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the projects I’m working on) can be a good way to do this.
Learn to say no
Being an intern means that you’re here to help out. And people might want to take advantage of that. It’s not rare that more than one person on my team requested my help with something – big or not. And as the intern, you probably don’t want to tell anyone you can’t. I mean, you’re here to learn, right? Well, that’s not exactly true. Think about it. Does every single thing people throw at you help you learn? Probably not. Writing emails, following up on calls and formatting documents is probably not the most valuable thing you can do to maximize your experience as an intern. If you have the time to dedicate to it, then, great! But this must not come in the way of things your supervisor gave you. Afterall, you’re working for them, not the rest of the team! So you have to learn to say no when you just can’t take anything else on your plate. Trust me, otherwise, it can get overwhelming quickly. I learned this the hard way, and people won’t hate you or think you’re lazy just because you can’t take on yet another project!
If you are anything like me, chances are you are going to have to handle more than one project at once. And trust me, when you have a never-ending to-do list, you have to get organized quickly, otherwise you’ll never get anything done. Figure out early a way to keep track of everything you need to do and where you are at.
I try to be organized with every aspect of my professional life. I created different folders on my computer to organize my projects and documents that I work on, I created different folders to organize my inbox, etc. Honestly, being organized is a must when it comes to being a great intern. Your life will be so much easier if everything is done on time and everything is easy to find. Everyone’s organization system is different, but find out what works for YOU and stick to it!
Being an intern is such a great experience and I’m honestly so happy that I got to do mine at such a great place. I had a great time and I hope my colleagues appreciated me as much as I appreciated them. If you have the opportunity to be an intern somewhere, do it!
Have you ever had an internship? What are your tips to being a great intern?