In December of 2010, I applied for and was selected for the Summer 2011 internship at Howell Marketing. As a college senior in PR, it was a big “win” to get an internship in an agency full of people practicing and excelling in the areas I was learning about in school. Little did I know after writing a post on “HOW TO: Land an Internship Thru Twitter” that my position as an intern would lead to a career.
In this market, college students should be working hard to stand out and gain employment after earning their degree. Here are some tips, brought to you by my experiences in the trenches:
Make a name for yourself: You may have heard it before, but I will say it again—being on social media sites is essential. Having a professional tone and being smart about what you post while still letting your personality shine is the first step of the interview process. Your potential bosses are paying attention to your online personality. If you wouldn’t want your new boss to see it, don’t post it.
Do the research: You’re never finished learning and education doesn’t stop when spring exams are over. Contributing valuable knowledge to the team adds value to your position in the eyes of your superior.
Learn the lessons: Research doesn’t always come in the form of books and articles. Your superiors are there to educate you. Pay attention to what the successful people are doing and determine how you can apply their best qualities to your life and work. Even if they’re not sitting down with you and walking you through something, they are coaching you through their words and actions. It’s your responsibility to pick up on what they’re teaching you.
Be helpful to your colleagues: Take things off their plate. As an intern, you’re there to help out in any way that you can. Whether it’s unloading the dishes in the company break room or doing the legwork on a big project, add value to the team in any way that you can. Your coworkers will appreciate you.
Boredom is not an option: Your boss can only bill for what you get accomplished. If you’re wasting time as an intern, his or her thought process will be that you’ll probably waste more time as a salary employee. Finish the tasks outlined for you that day? Never twiddle your thumbs—find something productive to do.
Understand the numbers: College does not teach you how to “think like a business person.” Figure out how finances work. Money can be an uncomfortable topic, but it’s part of life and part of business. Getting a grasp on the numbers, appropriately and without overstepping your boundaries, will help you understand commerce, production and how you can find and add more value. Keep trying to learn how the wheels turn (and where the gas comes from).
Go the extra mile: If your new employer asks you to be there from 9-3, do not be afraid to get there early and stay late. Find new ways to add value to the work. Being innovative and thinking outside the box will help you. Do not be afraid to work hard—someone is always paying attention.
I am still learning. I am still trying to prove myself as a young professional and be a valuable asset to my team; that is not going to change anytime soon. As soon as you get “comfortable”, you’ve made a mistake. Work like there are fifty other candidates that would kill for your job, because I assure you—there are. The job market is tough. You’ve got to step up to the plate to stand out.
Has anyone else made this transition? How did you turn your internship into your career?
Post by Kiersten Bagley