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Getting the most out of your internship

August 4, 2010

This post is a bylined piece written by MarketWave’s summer intern, Devin Smith. He shared with us his tips on how to get the most out of an internship during college. Find him here on LinkedIn.

Our wonderful summer intern, Devin!

Getting the most out of your internship

By Devin Smith

Before walking the stage and turning that tassel, professors and college advisors alike want their students to do one important thing – intern. They stress the importance of gaining real world experience in a field pertaining to your major prior to graduation. As a third semester senior (but who’s counting), I took note of this early on and sought out opportunities to gain hands-on experience in public relations. This week ends my summer internship with MarketWave, and I must say this has been a top-notch internship experience.

In the last two months, I have played an active role in executing projects and fulfilling the needs of clients. Working in an office of highly successful and smart professionals has provided me with skills and lessons that I’ll utilize when it’s my turn to be in the workforce. As an intern, it was necessary for me to take extra initiative to stand out and show my value because this team forms the foundation of my future professional network. Here are some tips to help future interns stand out in the office and show your employer some concrete contributions.

#1 Get out of your chair. When you have no pressing assignments, don’t sit and Facebook chat until something comes along. Get up, walk around and ask if there’s anything you can help with. While they may not be asking for assistance, more times than not someone will have something for you to do if you just ask. This exhibits initiative and assertiveness. Your employer will take note of your work ethic and willingness to help whenever possible. Plus, you’re creating another opportunity to experience something you might not normally have on your project plate.

#2 Go the extra mile. When given what you may think is a simple assignment, go the extra mile and exceed your superior’s expectations. If asked to do research on a particular subject, take it a step farther and dig deeper to get more in-depth information. When compiling your findings, make it very organized and professional instead of merely copy and pasting information in a Word document. You will be credited for your dedication to submitting superior work.

#3 Show them what you can do. Outside of your daily projects and assignments, seek out opportunities to bring something to the table that’s all your own. For example, there could be some new restaurant trends and you see it as a way to tap into a new market. Putting together a short, professional presentation of your research will be highly regarded. Showcasing your skills at a higher level will be welcomed and respected, and is a great way to get your boss’s attention.

#4 Keep it professional. Despite the fact that you’re a 20-something, college student, think about where you are, and what you’re doing. You’re among professionals who are doing real work. Be sure to double check grammar in e-mails and assignments, and make it a point in the mornings to think about what you’re going to wear. Perception is reality, and you want your team to see you as a fellow professional, not just a co-ed. Be mindful of your speech and the way you carry yourself in the office. In order to be respected and seen as a mature individual in the field, you must always put a professional foot forward.

Internships are what you make of them. You want to walk away confident that you gained experience and that it wasn’t a waste of your time. Be aware of opportunities to stand out and make your presence known and you will have the chance to do more and learn more. Following these tips will allow for a great internship leading you toward achieving future career goals.

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