The summer is flying by very quickly, and for interns, this means their experience has reached the midpoint.
Instead of waiting for the last week to really dive in to an internship, here are four things every intern should start doing now to make the most out of the experience and become unforgettable in the eyes of their employer.
1. Get to know other interns. You probably started following each other on Instagram, and while that's certainly a start, building relationships with fellow interns means you're really getting to know them. Go out to lunch or coffee breaks on a regular basis and learn more about them as people.
While it may be hard to imagine now, even five years or beyond you may reach out to each other with job leads or cross paths again in a professional environment. What's the key to creating long-lasting relationships? Enjoying valuable face time and logging off while you're with each other. Keep your phones tucked away as you have conversations by finding out their favorite vacation spot, where they're planning on studying abroad, the professional sports team they're most passionate about or what their immediate goals are post-graduation.
Share information about yourself that goes beyond your online profile. Keep it professional; there's no need to dive into secrets. Instead, focus on small talk and topics spring boarding into meaningful conversations.
2. Network, network, network. One of the most important things an intern can do is network internally -- expand your base while your foot is already in the door. Start by building alliances and forging relationships within your own department and then expand to others.
Sit down with your boss sooner rather than later. Instead of waiting for the last week of your internship, schedule lunches with people from other departments, as well as your own, create a schedule now, reach out and schedule at least one lunch every week. You can be transparent and tell your boss you're looking to learn more about the company and departments; who do they suggest you contact?
Some of it may happen organically. Find out from your supervisor if it's okay to shadow someone in the department for a few hours, or even an entire day. Your goal during the internship, aside from gaining hands-on experience, is to build new contacts, gain exposure for future possibilities and learn more about other departments from the inside.
In addition, ask your supervisor questions about your role and how it fits into the organization as a whole. Inquire about other departments and how they relate to yours. Learn more about corporate culture and the organizational hierarchy; if there's an office meeting, ask if you can attend.
The recurring theme here is asking and connecting. You'll need to speak up to get the most out of this experience above and beyond your core responsibilities.
3. Become unforgettable as you build your professional brand. Arrive early, stay late, demonstrate a "can do" attitude, and deliver impeccable, detail-oriented work. Become the go-to intern everyone wants to work with. Leverage your internship as an opportunity to market yourself, and for the employer to subsequently audition you for a future internship or potential full-time opportunity.
Remain professional at all times, avoid gossiping and volunteer to take the lead on projects. As you grow into this role, you'll become more visible and in turn, unforgettable; so months from now as the group has an opening they may mention your name and check in with where you are professionally.
Make it effortless and easy for the employer to remember you. Several months from now you'll keep in touch and send holiday cards-- but one of the best ways to become memorable is to make your mark now, and leave a positive impression during the internship.
4. Ask for references. Request a reference or two a few weeks prior to your official end date. This will give your references time to craft a letter and will give you the opportunity to follow up in person if they're out of the office or not prompt with delivering it.
Essentially, you can say something like, "I've really enjoyed working with you and as I start to interview for full-time jobs this coming year, I'd love to include you as a reference. Is it okay if I include your name and contact information on employment applications? Also, would you mind sending me a testimonial via email by this Friday?"
The key to avoiding awkwardness in your request requires that you're building a relationship during your internship so it doesn't feel like this is out of the blue. If you've been building relationships, supervisors will certainly help with testimonials as you pursue the next stage of your career.