This past summer I was privileged to do a social media marketing internship with publishing company David C. Cook. It was an incredible experience, one that I am very grateful for. I learned A LOT about business, leadership, marketing, social media, web development, programming, design, hiking, backpacking, relationships, and life. That’s one of the big benefits of internships: being able to learn a lot and grow your skills, while getting real world work experience. If you’re considering doing an internship, or about to start an internship, this post will help you make the most of it.
Here are six tips for making the most of an internship:
1. Build genuine relationships with people
One of the biggest lessons I learned this summer was the importance of relationships – both in business and in life. Relationships are what make life rich, open up opportunities, and a key ingredient in the growth of companies. You will do well in your internship (or any job) to build relationships with your coworkers, bosses, and (if you can) the executive leadership team. You never know what opportunities may come together down the road because of these relationships.
2. Learn as much as you can
Learn as much as you can about your craft/area of work, and also learn as much as you can about other areas of the business: finance, operations, leadership, accounting, design, web development, etc. Even if you never plan to work in these other departments, you’ll be better off down the road if you have some working knowledge of them because they are the components of any organization. Plus, after you learn about another area in the company, you may end up wanting to switch fields. Learn as much as you can about your area of work, and learn as much as you can about business in general.
3. Work diligently
The purpose of your internship is to work hard and learn a lot. You want to add value to your organization, and show them that you are a diligent work, eager to learn, open to correction. Remember: you may get hired by the company that you are interning at, so put your best foot forward every day. Even if you don’t end up getting hired full-time, the people you meet will put in a good word for you and help connect you to a job if they see you as a person adding value to the company.
4. Ask for recommendations
A great piece of advice I got from a co-worker at David C Cook was to connect with each person I met at David C Cook on LinkedIn, as well as get LinkedIn recommendations from my boss and department leader. This exposes you to the connections of your connections, as well as allowing other people to speak on your behalf. Since doing this, I’ve had several people contacting me asking me if I’d be interested in a job interview. You never know how this might help you later on!
5. Ask for business tips and life advice
Make a list of all the unanswered questions you have about business and life, and be ready to ask them when the opportunities arise. You’ll be amazed at how much wisdom you learn from other people.
6. Be grateful
This is one critical. Never forget that having an internship is a blessing and an opportunity – to learn, grow, gain valuable experience, develop relationships, and land a full-time job (whether at the company or somewhere else). Being grateful every day for the opportunities that your internship offers will dramatically improve your attitude, which in turn will effect how hard you work, how you approach each day, how you feel, and the decisions you make.
At the end of my summer internship, I ended up getting offered a full-time job at a marketing company in Chicago. The lessons and disciplines learned while interning at David C Cook were incredible, and I am convinced that my internship was a “MBA Fast Track.” (Plus, I got paid to go to “school.”) If you apply the tips above to your internship as well, I believe they will do the same for you.
Have you ever done an intership? What were the lessons you learned? Please leave a comment and let us know!