Written By: Alex Goldfarb
Successful internships are a win-win endeavor for both a driven student and a company. The student is gaining valuable insight into the working world, their major or area of expertise, and a possible future job, where a company is getting to see first-hand how a potential candidate performs and integrates to the workplace culture—hopefully keeping them on the radar for future employment. There are many horror stories about internships going wrong, but with a few helpful hints for the intern and the employer, your summer internship is a sure success!
For the intern:
- Dress for success: Even if the company is casual, it’s better to come a bit over dressed rather than sloppy on your first day. Try nice pants and a blouse or button up for a safe choice.
- Be aware of company goals and culture: What does the company sell? Who is the owner? Who is the CEO? Even if your position is temporary, and you never come into contact with the owners, it helps to have done your research on the organization you’re working with.
- Be outgoing: By no means should you discuss your wicked hangover with coworkers, however learning a bit about their family and social lives will break the ice and impress coworkers—making the job space enjoyable and allowing you to build future personal connections.
- Ask questions and take guidance: If a boss or coworker gives you advice, TAKE IT! They are definitely giving it for a reason. Also, if you don’t understand something, asking is the best way to learn and get better at your job.
- Challenge yourself: You want to show that you can accept and complete a challenge. Your first internship should be an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone to discover your strengths and weaknesses.
For the employer:
- Make a list of things to be done: Your interns often have no idea what to expect. Having a checklist or some sort of structure will enable them to create goals and monitor their progress during the internship period.
- Provide feedback and give opportunity for questions: Make your interns feel comfortable and able to ask questions if they are having trouble. It is clear that you are in power, but making the temporary employee feel at home ensures a better chance that they will want to return in the future.
- Prepare your other employees: Especially if your interns are volunteering their time, a mentor is top priority in order to create successful internships. Before interns start, discuss goals and expectations with the current employees that will guide them in the right direction.
- Understand what the intern wants: Does your intern intend to someday work for your company full time, or merely want another bullet point on their resume? Are they in it for the money or the experience, or both? Knowing these things beforehand ensures that you and your interns are on the same page before the season begins.
By considering these simple tips, companies and students will greatly benefit from internships. Go out there this intern season prepared and ready to act with dignity and step out a bit of your comfort zone. Best of luck to all interns this summer!