Summer internship. Those two words do not sound like they go together. Summer means beach, parties, and taking it easy. Internship means working for free. Working for free when your friends are at the beach sounds pretty miserable. However, if done correctly, a summer internship (or any internship) can set you up for a successful and enjoyable career.
Stay Positive, Even When You Don’t Want To Be
You are working. For free. It sucks. We get it. However, it’s best to get over that gripe on day one. You can look at yourself as a prisoner, being held against your will or you can appreciate the opportunity you are being given. This is a chance to learn from people who are occupying the types of roles you will soon be interviewing for. When given a mundane task, you can roll your eyes or you can seize the moment as a chance to impress someone who may be able to help your career somewhere down the line.
Ask Questions, Lots of Them
Like we established, you are working for free. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t collect payment in other ways. Get paid in knowledge. Ask questions, especially to those occupying positions that interest you. This is a chance to determine if the company, industry or job title you are working towards is actually something you are going to enjoy. Furthermore, most senior level staff are going to respect your desire to learn more and will be more than happy to answer your questions.
Meet As Many People As You Can
Every person you meet is a chance to make a connection that can help you later in life. You never know when you will be applying for a job at a company that someone you met now works at. Building off point number 2, the only way to be certain what career is right for you is to engage with people who are already in it. Finally, be sure to connect with these new contacts on LinkedIn to stay up to date on what they are doing.
Always Be Thinking About Your Resume
When you work for free, it’s tempting to avoid difficult tasks or projects. However, it is crucial to remember that this internship will be the main part of your resume after college. You will be going up against other recent college grads and will be desperately seeking a way stand out. Volunteer for any project that allows you to work on a new skill. This could include public speaking, creating content, running campaigns, or managing projects. Always be thinking about what you are going to say when that hiring manager asks “What did you do during this internship?”.
Treat It Like A Job
After a few weeks of routine tasks for no money, it will be easy to take some shortcuts. You will be tempted to be less disciplined about what you wear, what you look like, or what time you show up in the morning. These things will be noticed and all those contacts you made will remember that when you call upon them in the future. Always look your best and respect the position you have been given. People won’t forget that.
You often hear me ask my audience “What type of person do you want to become?”. An internship is an integral part in finding your answer to that question. It’s a gateway into a possible future. It’s also an opportunity to ensure success in the various situations you will find yourself in. Take advantage of this opportunity because I promise you, it will be worth it when you reach the next step in your life.
Kyle is a youth/education public speaker and blog author. His goal is to use these mediums to inspire high school and college students to think differently about the choices they are about to make and the next steps in their lives.
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The views expressed in this blog and all my content are mine and do not reflect the views and opinions of any companies and educational institutions I have had current or past connections with.