1. Have your 20-second pitch ready
One of the key things in making the most of your internship is, without a doubt, networking. You need to be able to effectively connect with a wide range of people; sharing your achievements, interests and aspirations, whilst finding out the same about them. A career expert, Kathryn Minshew, has put together a video that demonstrates how to network effectively.
The ‘elevator pitch’ is a great idea to think about; if you met the CEO of the organisation in the lift one morning, would you be able to communicate who you are and what you do within a short period of time, in an appropriate way? Try rehearsing your speech in the mirror at home, and with friends and family.
2. Show potential
Showing potential during an internship is not just about getting everything perfect all the time, nor is it about trying to bag big projects. One day, you may be given tasks you think are trivial, whilst another day you may be assigned a challenging task that has a major impact on the whole organisation. Think of your internship as an opportunity to take on new things that you may have little experience of or may not be confident doing. Doing everything you are asked to with a positive attitude and asking for help when needed shows that you are keen to develop and learn all the time.
Seek out opportunities to get involved in a variety of tasks, within your immediate team and other departments within the organisation. Ask if you can come along to meetings and show a general interest in different areas of the company.
3. Become a pro at handling feedback
As a new graduate, you may be qualified and possess a lot of theoretical knowledge; however, with little or no experience of putting all this knowledge into practice, it is unlikely that you will get everything right. In order to develop in the professional world, you will need to be able to listen to feedback and implement it moving forward. Admitting you were wrong or that you could have approached a situation in a better way may not always be easy, but learning from constructive criticism will help you to develop personally and also to contribute positively to an organisation.
When faced with a similar situation in the future, show that you actively listened and learned from the previous experience.
So, what exactly is active listening?
4. Know that there is always something to do
After you have completed a task, ask for the chance to see the project through to the end. If you finish your work and there is nobody around to assign you some more, give yourself tasks to do! (Yes, you read that right!)
Research the organisation and perhaps other initiatives they are involved with. You may want to look at the work of competitors within the industry with a view to come up with ideas to offer a better service. Be creative: brainstorming new ideas and initiatives that could benefit the organisation as a whole will show that you are serious about a future career at the organisation.
Don’t: Browse Facebook or ASOS for the rest of the afternoon.
5. Do you really need to tweet that?
There’s nothing wrong with using social media sites, but in the professional world, there is no need for everybody to know what you’re wearing that day or how much you hate walking behind slow people. Social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn can be a blessing if used properly, but career-destroying if you post without thinking.
When tweeting or posting pictures online, consider whether you would want a future employer to see them. Perhaps you want to Google yourself to check what your online footprint looks like. Change privacy settings on your social media sites depending on who you want them to be viewed by. If you need any more help and tips to help you manage your online reputation, have a read of this post.