Why should you care? What’s the point of this internship? It can be many things – job exposure, experience, money, connections, learning what you do and don’t want in a job, positioning yourself to secure a full time offer later.

Internships can be impactful but vary widely and range from shadowing to doing real work. But no matter the internship, the golden rule always applies: first, do no harm. Dive in when you can, but don’t get in over your head. Below are some guidelines to follow from day one:

PREPARATION

  • Come in understanding what the company does, what the mission entails, and how they’re doing in their field
  • Know what is expected from you
  • Know who you’ll ask when you have questions

START STRONG

  • Get to work on time, well rested, and ready to jump in
  • If you don’t know the dress code, err on the conservative side
  • Take cues from the people around you – when they arrive, when they leave, how they conduct themselves, what their breaks look like.
  • Complete the assignments you’re given promptly and thoroughly
  • Do what’s asked and do it well. If you think you can handle more work, take it on incrementally
  • Ask for help / guidance if you’re unsure of things
  • Keep texting and web surfing to a minimum

STAY STRONG

  • Be friendly and engaging with everyone you come across
  • Make an effort to learn something every day
  • Try to contribute every day
  • Ask for feedback, especially if you’re feeling anxious about your work. Knowing how you’re doing will help eliminate stress

FINISH STRONG

  • Be thinking about future opportunities – think about how you can best leverage the knowledge and connections you made for future employment
  • Keep track of your completed work, your projects, your accomplishments – these will allow you to showcase your work readiness
  • Keep saying thank you – to those who hired you, helped you, and took time to teach you

Above all, dig in and show some hustle. Your summer internship might not lead directly to your dream job, but all experience is good experience, so make the most of the opportunity you’ve been given.

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