BY JAMIE TURNER
If you’re like many college students, you have plans for an internship this summer. That’s terrific — internships are a great way for you to get practical experience and to build up business connections that will pay off when you graduate. And even if your “internship” is working at Starbucks or being a lifeguard for the summer, there are plenty of things you’ll learn along the way that will help you in the years to come.
You’re probably interested in learning a few techniques to ensure your internship is a success this summer. With that in mind, here are a few tips to get you going.
Begin with the end in mind
You might have heard a professor or one of your parents say begin with the end in mind. It’s a concept that was popularized in Steven Covey’s classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Here’s how it works – research indicates that when people have a specific outcome in mind, they’re more likely to achieve that outcome. In other words, if they visualize a positive result before they start doing the work, the odds that the endeavor will be a good for everyone improve. And even if the desired outcome changes along the way, people find that having an end goal in mind when they start makes the journey more enjoyable and fruitful.
What are some outcomes that you might consider for your internship? Here are several thought starters:
- At the end of my internship, I would like to have a better understanding of how the theories I’m taught in school are applied in the real world.
- At the end of my internship, I would like my employer to consider me as a candidate for a full-time job.
- At the end of my internship, I would like to have a better sense of whether this industry is one I would enjoy.
No matter what outcome you’re looking for, the key is to have an end goal in mind when you start the internship. It’s okay if the goal evolves or changes along the way – that’s pretty common – but don’t walk through the doors on your first day without having thought through what it is you want to accomplish over the summer.
Be a self-starter
Don’t be surprised if on the first day or your internship you feel a little lost or out of place. That’s normal and to be expected. By day two or three, you should have a pretty good comfort level of what they want from you and what you can expect from the internship. Once you get comfortable in your new role, here’s a tip to help you stand out from the run-of-the-mill interns – be a self-starter. In other words, don’t sit on your hands waiting for instructions or permission from your boss. A lot of times, they’ve got pressures of their own that are making them a little pre-occupied, so they won’t always be around to tell you what to do next.
If your boss is pre-occupied, that’s actually an opportunity for you to shine. For example, you might have noticed that your boss is trying to get up-to-speed on a new client’s business. If that’s the case, do some homework on Google and write a short, one-page backgrounder on the new client’s industry. Your boss will appreciate it. Or, your boss might have asked you to run a Facebook campaign to help drive more prospects to their business. If that’s the case, you might run the Facebook campaign, and also show your boss how they can also run a campaign on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
The key idea is to take the assignment that you’ve been given and do 10% or 15% more than they asked. Don’t wait for permission. Instead, just do it. They’ll be grateful for your extra work.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback
Feedback is your friend. Don’t be afraid of it. Once your boss has had the opportunity to work with you for about a week, find a moment when they don’t look busy and say something along the lines of, “I’m really enjoying myself this summer and appreciate the opportunity. Do you any input or feedback on things I can improve and things I’m doing well at?”
By opening the door to constructive criticism, you’re letting your employer know that you’re 1) mature, 2) ambitious, and 3) eager to make a good impression. Just be sure you ask for feedback at the right moment. If your boss looks busy or stressed, then it’s best to wait until they’re more relaxed and ready to spend a few minutes providing feedback.
Keep in mind that you can learn something from every job you have, whether it’s working on Wall Street or working in an ice cream parlor. Every job has value and every job can teach you about the world of business. So no matter where you land this summer, make the best of it. And if you are working at an ice cream parlor this summer, make sure you’re the best, friendliest, hardest-working ice cream scooper there ever was.
About the Author: Jamie Turner is an author, speaker, and the CEO of 60SecondMarketer.com. He is also an adjunct instructor at the University of Texas and Emory University.