Are you starting to think about your summer internship and planning how to make a positive impact? The stakes might be quite high. A successful internship could see you offered the dream job. If things don’t go so well that’s probably an employment option off the list. Here are my top tips to make sure you nail it.
1. Turn up on time!
Plan your route and allow for things to go wrong. If I know it’s really important to be somewhere at a specific time, I always build in a comfortable cushion of time and then usually arrive ridiculously early. Fortunately I like coffee! Don’t actually arrive incredibly early at the office. Find yourself somewhere to have that cup of coffee and arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before the designated time.
2. Get your outfit right.
This isn’t just a girly thing! Your clothes need to be suitable for the environment you’re going into. It’s pretty easy if you are a man going for a City job, a suit will be de rigeur. Don’t slip up on the tie though, play it safe and go conservative. If you’re a woman you probably won’t go far wrong in a suit (or skirt or trousers and jacket). Have a think about the length of your skirt though. Of course you don’t want to look a frump, but presumably you would like to shine for your intellect and talent and not for your length of your legs? Make sure that you can move comfortably in what you wear and that includes shoes. The precipitous heels may not be ideal, nor may the sensible brogues you haven’t ever worn before. A more creative environment will probably call for more “arty” clothes, if you’re in real doubt why not call up the office and ask a receptionist what the dress code is? Generally err on the side of caution, don’t assume on “Dress Down Friday” that you can slop along in a onesie! It doesn’t matter if you are a bit smarter than everyone else you don’t want to feel ridiculous.
3. Know your employer.
Remind yourself of your research on the employer before you arrive. You might have gone through a selection process months before. If so, all your work for exams since then probably means that you can’t remember much of what you found out. It would be good to go back through the website, look at press releases and follow stories in the press. You want to feel that you really know about your employer. If you can ask questions demonstrating a good background of knowledge you will be on the way to impressing.
4. They’re watching you!
Remember that anyone and everyone you meet could be asked to give an opinion on your suitability for a permanent role. Don’t let your guard down. Be unfailing polite to everyone. Don’t forget to express your gratitude to those who support and work with you. They’re giving up time which they could be spending on their own roles to help you and you need to recognise that. It’s also good to remember that you are at the bottom of the pile. The office junior has a permanent job while you do not – don’t act as if you are his or her superior!
5. Be efficient!
Keep a pad and paper with you all the time. If someone gives you a job to do, you can make notes of what is wanted and avoid the need to go back to ask again, (or the worse scenario of just doing the wrong thing). Make sure you clarify what is being asked for and understand the level of detail required and the time frame you are working to. Be realistic about time. If you have already been given some urgent work, you’ll need to explain that and ask your supervisors to determine the order for your tasks. It is not for you to try to prioritise. Make sure the work is done within the timeframes you agreed. If for some reason you can’t do that then go back and explain your problem.
6. Don’t forget to socialise.
Most employers will lay on some social activities for you. You are meant to attend them! This is an opportunity for you to show that you will “fit in” to the organisation’s culture and that you are personable and could be “let loose” on clients. It is also a chance to talk to staff you haven’t previously come across and to find out more about the organisation from them. This is going to be really tough for you if you’re observing Ramadan, but try to stick around and have the confidence to explain your fast. If you are taken on as an employee, there are probably going to be many times during your working life when the job will challenge your observance and employers will give you great credit for demonstrating that you can work and stick to your principals.
7. Enjoy the experience.
Be enthusiastic, make sure you keep smiling through whatever you are asked to do, it’s a good way to build the positive relationships which are likely to see you being offered the long term post.