If you landed a summer internship, congrats! Whether paid or unpaid, internships can do a lot for your resume, and they show you’re committed and you have a little experience under your belt. If your internship is part of a credit requirement you need before you graduate, it might be tempting to just skate through the next few months and just try and survive.
However, the things you do at your internship matter, and if you want a good recommendation letter written, you’re going to want to take this seriously. Not only are you representing your college or university, but you’re getting your feet wet in the workplace world. You might meet people who will be great connections later on in life, and you’ll more than likely be working on real life At the same time, don’t get yourself too anxious about the next few months—if you’re reading this blog post, you probably care enough to put in the effort you’ll need to do a great job and make a good impression.
There’s a lot more than simply showing up that goes into a successful internship, so if you’re looking for a productive and favorable experience, take a look at these quick tips.
1. Dress appropriately
While that cute, casual top you just got might be great for your Monday morning class or working on a paper at the campus coffee shop, you should probably make sure to invest in a few great business casual tops and bottoms. It’s a great way to make an excellent first impression as soon as you walk in the door.
Most workplaces have some sort of dress code, so it’s important to inquire after your supervisor about what’s typical. Unless your boss has explicitly told you that you can dress casually or in jeans, it’s a good idea to save the sleeveless dresses, sandals, and shorts for the weekends and evenings. If you’re unsure about what you should wear, it’s always a good idea to dress more formally than casually.
2. Be on time
This might seem like an easy tip to assume, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to skate into your workplace ten to fifteen minutes late. Coming to work late is an easy way to get negative points with your team, and it will be especially obvious if you have an early morning meeting first thing. Excuses like bad traffic or snowy roads are rarely tolerated as you should be planning ahead for any mishaps such as those.
If you are going to be late, it’s courteous to give your supervisor a call or text (depending on what they prefer) to let them know that you’re running behind. If you find you tend to run late in general, set up some good boundaries for yourself, like arriving at work fifteen minutes early no matter what.
3. Take notes
As an intern, it’s a good idea to cart around a pen and small notebook no matter what you’re doing. If someone is training you in something, you’re going to want to make a practice of taking notes. Not only will it prove that you’re interested in what you’re being taught, but it will save you from having to ask questions about things you should already know the answer to. This is also a good practice when you become an actual employee—showing up to meetings with a pen and paper shows that you’re engaged, you’re ready to learn or help, and you are responsible.
4. Be respectful
While your internship might not feel like a “real job,” that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat it like one. You might not always agree with what your supervisor says, but it’s important to show respect to those in authority over you. This goes for all modes of communication: email, texts, calls. Make sure you are responding appropriately and quickly to your team when they try and contact you.
5. Don’t gossip and watch your volume
Gossip around the water cooler in the break room is pretty typical, but that doesn’t mean you have to participate. Not only can gossip be hurtful, but the wrong person could overhear you, which could affect your work relationships. Some offices are quite quiet, while others have a louder environment. Pay attention and be sure to adjust your volume—both of your voice and your music if your supervisor has okayed you listening to it during work.