Your heart is pounding. You’re trying to put on a good game face. You’re hoping no one can see how much you are sweating. (Thankfully, it’s Fall, so you can dress in layers.) Given the fact that you are here, your first day as an intern, it would be safe to assume you have worked hard—very hard—to get here. Starting a professional journey is always accompanied by countless doubts and apprehensions, and therefore, it is natural to feel overwhelmed. No matter whether you complete your studies from a university in Virginia, Maryland, or any other state, that “lasting impression” now rests squarely on your shoulders. To help you put your best foot forward, Curious offers Ten Commandments for cracking the intern code and turning your summer internship into a permanent placement.
1. Arrive Ahead of Time, Everyday
Although the first impression you make may not be the last, it does set a standard. Show up early on Day One, around 10-15 minutes earlier than the scheduled time. Then make that routine your discipline. Establishing the habit of showing up early sends the right message to your supervisors. It also makes those unavoidable morning when you are running behind less of an issue.
2. Focus on Body Language
From eye contact to the way you sit to your casual gestures, every part of your body speaks volumes about the kind of associate you would make. Always carry a pleasant persona, and no matter what, stay aware of the line between assertion and aggression.
3. Formal is the Way
Although different workplaces have different cultures and dress codes, you will certainly not be penalized for dressing up. Professional, conservative attire should be your choice. Once at the office, you can either speak to your supervisor or Human Resources to find out more about the company’s dress code.
4. Don’t be a “Yes” Man
All too often, interns make the mistake of saying “yes” to everything, even when they could present an alternative. Although every employer holds “go-getters” in high regards, no one wants to work with a robot programmed to say “yes” only to become overwhelmed with deliverables. Pace yourself.
5. Adhere to Timelines
In today’s fast paced business environment, time is everything. One delay, and you might be looking at a failed project or actual financial loss. As an intern, you need to ensure adherence to all timelines. Even if a task does not “critical” it is a good idea to know for certain when a deliverable is expected.
6. Avoid Absenteeism
Your attendance record is one of the most obvious indicators of your professionalism. Repeated absences may not only hamper your learning and development, but will assuredly lessen your chances of getting a full-time placement in comparison with other interns sporting better attendance records.
7. Maintain a Work Log
The outcome of an internship largely depends on the overall value delivered by the intern during their time with the company. Always be in a position to highlight your achievements by maintaining a detailed work log. List accomplished goals, deadlines met, and—if applicable—any analytics you can provide. Documentation is your strongest ally in a performance review.
8. Document Vital Inputs
When the floodgates of information are unbolted, even the sharpest minds have to run for cover. Always keep a notepad handy to jot down any important inputs you receive, and make it a point to revisit the information after wrapping up the day.
9. Share Daily Reports
When you are an intern, it is easy to get lost in the crowd, unless you know how to make it into the good books of your manager. Sharing daily reports is an effective solution to demonstrate your skills and prove that you would be a valuable addition to the team.
10. Uphold Integrity
Your employers may have all the time in the world to invest in your training and development, but for that to happen, they need to have faith in you as a professional. Earn that faith by upholding a strong integrity, both professionally and personally. Actions will always speak volumes.
The transition from college to professional life brings with it a number of challenges, but with the right approach, no mountain is too high to climb. From the student who just completed a graduate program in Virginia to the professional returning to college in Maryland, the tips we have discussed will surely go a long way in helping you land a permanent placement with a reputable employer.
Feel free to add to our list or share your own views in the Comments section.