Making the Most out of your College Internship
As a current college student, the thought of proactively reaching out to seasoned professionals can be daunting. However, so much of professional success isn’t about your credentials or even your experience- it’s who you know. Comb through the profiles of colleagues on LinkedIn and internal websites to learn more about the people who are already working in your field of interest. Shoot a quick introductory email and ask to meet for coffee or grab lunch (even busy professionals have to eat!). And then don’t blow your opportunity to make a connection. Ask her about her career path and trajectory; her experience working for the company; advice that she wishes she could give herself when she was first starting out. Always follow up with a quick thank you email and then handwritten note.
Leave a Lasting Impression
Everyone is familiar with the saying about first impressions. But I would argue that impressions are really developed over a sustained period of time. Don’t just be punctual, be early. Stay late. Ask for additional responsibilities once you have completed the tasks assigned to you. Be confident but coachable, you are, after all, there to learn. And demonstrate these qualities consistently; this becomes the person they will remember.
Be a Cerebral Workhorse
Put in the work as if your livelihood depended on it- one day it may. Sure, there are summer parties and festivals, concerts, and sporting events that you’d probably rather be at. Don’t deprive yourself completely but scale back on social commitments to devote more time and energy to work. This may mean working beyond typical or previously-designated work hours. Guess what- this is okay. But don’t just work hard without a plan or strategy. Use all of those econ or engineering theory courses to show off your academic horsepower. If the company is struggling with a process or system, try to wrap your arms around the problem to offer a fresh and innovative solution, and don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.
Be sure to get the contact information of several colleagues before leaving. Stay in touch but make sure that your contact is meaningful. Thank you notes for mentorship or guidance. Holiday cards. Updates on significant accomplishments, especially if the contact was helpful in your attaining this accomplishment. And as your full-time job search begins, reach out to your contacts if there is a particular job you’ll be going after or just to reconnect. Again, so much of one’s career is about who you know not necessarily what you know. That contact just might mean that your resume gets moved to the top of the pile, and that’s a much better position than the bottom.