Landing a summer internship can be a lengthy and frustrating task, but the work doesn’t stop when you get that final acceptance email. On the contrary, the real work starts on your first day. Your first day is the beginning of the incredible opportunity to impress your summer internship boss (aka a potential future employer), make important industry contacts, and learn more about your dream job.
Summer internships are the perfect opportunities to gain experience without having to juggle classes, meaning you could even take a position that’s in a different location than your school. Lauren Berger, the Intern Queen herself, provided Ladders with a list of how to impress your internship boss and maximize the intern experience.
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How to impress a summer internship boss
1. Say yes as much as possible. “Once you’re at the internship your job is to soak up everything and meet as many people as possible,” Berger said.
While interns may be juggling multiple responsibilities in conjunction with their summer internships, such as classes or another job, Berger strongly recommends attending any out-of-office event that you’re invited to. Whether it’s a casual dinner, power breakfast, workout class, or even working an event for the team after hours, Berger stresses the importance of showing up.
“Showing up is something people value so much and it’s so much harder than you think it is,” Berger said. “Show up and whenever you have an opportunity to go above and beyond, take those opportunities, because you don’t get a lot of them in life, and especially not at your job,
Each time you say yes is a moment to impress your boss and at your summer internship, as Berger said, “you want to really shine.”
2. Ask questions. “If you have a gut feeling and really think you’re about to mess something up but you’re scared to ask the question…take a deep breath, be really polite and professional, and just ask the question,” Berger said.
While many interns are nervous about looking inexperienced, Berger said it’s much more preferable for an intern to ask questions than for them to royally screw something up for your boss or for the company.
3. Plant the seed about future employment. Berger doesn’t mind if an intern expresses interest in working with her again in the future, but he or she shouldn’t wait until the last day of their internship to do so.
“If you think you want to work at that company after graduation, plant the seed,” Berger said. “Make sure the company knows early on, don’t expect that you’re going to tell them on the last day and they’ll offer you a job.“
4. Remember that first impressions are important, but so are last impressions. You definitely shouldn’t be late on the first day of your internship, that’s a recipe for a pretty bad first impression. But you also shouldn’t check out of your internship early, leaving a really terrible last impression, which some may argue is even worse than a bad first impression.
Too often, Berger has seen interns mentally check out, or sometimes literally just not show up, during the last two week of their internship. What many interns don’t realize is how quickly a good impression can turn into a bad one.
“I can love an intern, but if they really do something to disappoint the team, especially in a time of need, a good impression can turn into a bad impression very quickly,” Berger said.
Young professionals might not have the foresight or experience to recognize this, but impressions in the workplace stick.
“If you do something that affects the company in a significant enough way, they’re going to remember,” Berger said. “That’s good for when you do something great, but that’s also really bad for when you do something not so great.”
If a boss’s last impression of an intern is someone who isn’t reliable to finish a project strongly, the boss will most likely not hire the intern as a full-time employee or provide a good reference for future job opportunities. By checking out of your summer internship early you not only burn a bridge but waste all of the hard work you put in at the beginning of the internship.
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