June 15, 2010

Making your Internship as Beneficial as Possible

During the summer, many companies offer internships to students. Even though these internships are often unpaid, you can still gain valuable experience by working in a professional setting. JobMonkey has a great job board for internships, and no matter where you can work, you can use the following tips to make the most of your time with the company this summer:

  • Check with your college before you apply. Many schools offer college credit for summer internships, but the job has to meet certain requirements, such as offering you a minimum number of hours. Before you spend time applying anywhere, find out if your college has any criteria and ask the potential employer if they’re willing to fill out the right paperwork for you to receive college credit.
  • Make connections while at work. The company offering the internship may not have full-time positions open when you graduate from college, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the internship to transition into a real job. Make sure that everyone in the company knows your name and sees that you’re a dependable employee. Through networking, you might be able to get a job with their recommendations, so make an impression.
  • Take every opportunity to learn. An internship isn’t just a job; it is a learning experience. The reason companies don’t have to pay interns is that they are taking you on knowing that you have little knowledge of the field and need to be taught new skills. Take opportunities offered to you to gain experience, even if it means helping on weekends or staying late. If you aren’t offered these opportunities, just ask! If your internship is unpaid, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to at least observe, as long as you’re willing to put in the extra hours.
  • Learn from your mistakes. In an internship, you’re going to make mistakes. That’s ok, as long as you learn and don’t make these mistakes again. Employers are typically more lenient with interns, since you have little experience in your industry, but you could get fired or receive bad feedback to your college professors if you don’t improve your skills. Listen to all the constructive criticism you’re getting, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Remember, with any internship, you need show that you’re a good worker by being punctual, respecting all company rules, showing initiative, and doing every task to the best of your ability. You may not know how to do the specific job right away, but just because this is a learning experience doesn’t mean that you can’t have good general job skills.

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