Congratulations! You’re unfortunate enough to be flung into the workforce during a time when it is nearly impossible to thrive.
You have your parents to thank for conceiving you in the late 80s to early 90s. Time to fly or die, baby! As if it were even that simple.
In 2010, only 62 percent of US college graduates had a job that required a college degree.
Additionally, it’s estimated that just 27 percent of college grads had a job that was closely related to their major. So, if you actually want to work in the field you’ve spent tons of time and money on studying, you better work.
To the up and coming class of college grads, it’s more important than ever to set yourself apart from the pack and formulate impressive and lasting connections. Although you’re encouraged to start networking as early as possible, your internship is a prime opportunity to really make an impression. So, here’s how to not blow it:
Dress the part
Do not underdress. Not underdressing is obvious. If you look like a slob, it’s going to reflect how others perceive you. With H&M, Zara and all the other affordable clothing options out there, it’s easy to look nice while on a college budget.
Insider Tip: Invest in a nice pair of shoes. If you’re wearing a button up and tie, with sneakers on your feet, you’ll look immature. A general rule of thumb is to pick the person whose job is closest to yours and dress like him or her.
Learn to write a proper email
This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of emails received from potential and current interns that are written as if they’re casually text messaging a friend.
In the workplace, email should be treated as formal communication.
An email should include a greeting, body and a closing. Write in complete sentences, use proper punctuation, and for goodness sake, please use a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence.
Write down everything
Literally, write down everything. Your supervisor should really not have to tell you anything more than once. People forget; it happens. To ensure it doesn’t happen to you, write down processes, procedures, coworkers’ names, the WiFi password, instructions… everything!
When a question comes up, you can consult your notes before looking for answers elsewhere. Which brings me to the next point…
Ask informed questions
Before you ask a question, do everything you can to find out the answer beforehand. Check Google, Wikipedia, the company database and any other source of information you can think of before going to your supervisor. Once you’ve done that, if you still have a question, ask it.
Do not be a distraction
Although it’s nice to think that your internship time will be filled with eight hours of meaningful work-related activities, chances are, you’re going to have a lot of down time.
If you do not have anything to do, find something -- preferably something productive, like reading industry articles or organizing file catalogs.
Let your intentions, goals and dreams be known. Have discussions with coworkers and supervisors about what you’d like to be doing after college and even 20 years from now.
If asked, give your opinion during team meetings. Potential employers want to see what kind of person and worker you are, and these are the appropriate times to shine.
Internships are learning experiences. No one expects you to be perfect, or to know everything. You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s okay.
When you make one, it presents an opportunity to show your maturity and your problem-solving skills. If you made a mistake, own up to it and make a suggestion about how you can help to fix it.
Take your time
When given an assignment, take your time completing it. Make sure it is correct (or at least correct as possible) before turning it in. Interns may feel that they need to rush through projects, as they’ll likely see people rushing through daily tasks around them.
Most of the time, however, a supervisor is looking for the quality in your work, not how quickly you can complete it. Once you become comfortable with the types of tasks you’re given, efficiency will come naturally.
“I’m on it”
These three little words are music to your superior’s ear. When asked to do something -- whether in person or via email -- respond with an enthusiastic,
“I’m on it!” Firstly, it lets him or her know that you intend on doing what was asked of you. Likewise, it shows that you are grateful to be there and to be learning.
Remember, your internship is more for you than anyone else. Although your internship host company is more than thankful to have your help for the semester, ultimately, this gig benefits you the most.
This is essentially a job test-run, and you get what you put into it. You’re future depends on this -- don’t blow it!
Photo via We Heart It