I highly recommend that college students should partake in at least one internship during their time in college. Internships are great for the resume and can help you figure out what you want to do in the future. You can develop new skills and gain hands-on experience.
As a Computer Information Systems student at Wentworth Institute of Technology, I was able to intern at State Street Corporation, Dell EMC, Brightcove Inc., and EF Education First. Here are the lessons I have learned:
1) Meet as many people as possible
Networking is really important for an internship. It is never too early to start building your professional network and meet as many people as possible while you are an intern. Gary Vaynerchuk says “If you are an intern, please understand, it is the human connections that you’re going to make”. The human connections that you make at an internship and the advice you get from your co-workers will last for a long time.
Try to meet people from different departments and learn how the business runs. Get out of your comfort zone and eat lunch with the marketing or sales teams. Being too comfortable in your department will limit the number of connections you make in the company. Connect with people on LinkedIn and this will be the start of building your professional network.
2) Bring a notebook and take notes
This is one advice I give to students before they start their internship. The reason why I tell them this advice is because I have made a mistake of not taking notes in meetings in the early days of my internships. The practice of note-taking at work is crucial because you are not going to remember things at meetings (unless you have a good memory).
If there is a process at work and you keep making the same mistake over and over again. Then try to write it down and list the steps you had to do to complete that process. When you are an intern, you are learning every day. The more notes you take at work, the better you become at completing a task.
3) Do not be afraid to ask questions
Whether it is your first day on the job or your last day, do not be afraid to ask questions. The more questions you ask, the more you will learn on the job. Asking questions shows your willingness to learn. By asking for help, it tells your co-workers that you have confidence in asking questions when you are unsure about something.
4) Always keep learning
The more you learn at an internship, the more skills you gain. Try to learn something new every day, it will make your internship more interesting. If there is something you are interested in learning, ask your manager if there are any opportunities. Be curious at all times and always keep learning.
5) Attend after-hour and social events
If your company have internship events, attend them. You will get the opportunity to network with other interns within the company. The more interns you know at the company, the more connections you will make.
Going to every after-hours event is key to building your professional network. Gary Vaynerchuk says “Go to every after-hours event. Say hello to everybody. If you work at an office where everybody’s head down, and it’s not that kind of culture, figure it out. HACK IT, be the obnoxious intern that was too bubbly. Make every connection you can. And make sure your presence is known”. At the end of the day, it is the people that you meet.
6) Keep in contact with colleagues
Try your best to keep in contact with your co-workers and your manager. You will never know when you need a recommendation, so it is best to keep in touch. Add your colleagues to LinkedIn and check in with them once in a while.