So, you have landed an internship. Whether you got it by way of your own industrious search or through your college major department head, you hope that this is a giant step towards your career goals. Some need more than one try to find out where they fit. But suppose you believe you have found your niche and want to stay on your current path. Internship is a golden opportunity to learn the ropes, develop your skills and make contacts. Good thing, since many do not pay.
Dress (and Speak and Work) to Impress
Even if graduation seems far away, now is the time to start making contacts in the working world. Much of your success has to with how you present yourself on a daily basis. If people are impressed with you personally, they are halfway to being impressed professionally.
Follow the rules (dress appropriately, be on time, meet deadlines promptly, etc.) and keep a friendly positive attitude. DON’T complain. About anything. At all. Don’t badmouth anyone, even if you hear others doing so. If you have a positive reputation, your coworkers will be more likely to share their tips and keep you in the picture with the company as a whole. You will also have better all around time.
Does the company have a bulletin board where internal jobs or extra assignments are posted? Volunteer for jobs you want to learn about. Make yourself known to the higher ups by your hard work and willingness to learn.
Do any of your coworkers belong to a professional society? Ask about who belongs to it, what they do, and what they have to say about the current job market. Request a newsletter to read. Are there trade magazines scattered around the lunch room? Read them and discuss what you’ve read. All this will give you an edge in knowledge and reputation and will likely impress the heck out your employer. Unless you’re a smart-aleck; don’t be a smart-aleck.
Check out trade shows. If your company has a booth, ask to help man it. If you cannot attend, ask others who did about their experiences. The same for conferences, seminars and special meetings, especially those with buyers, clients and prospective clients.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Listen attentively to people who know more than you, that is, almost everybody there. Choose the right time to ask questions. Don’t disturb someone who is on the phone, or deep in conversation, or bawling somebody out. Find out when they might have time to talk you and approach them with courtesy. No first names unless you have been told in advance that it’s all right. Don’t make a nuisance of yourself.
Talk to your supervisor or the human resources (personnel) manager about the availability of jobs within the company and the best ways to advance. If this is a growing concern, what new directions are they considering? What kind of jobs will these new directions create? Before your term is up, ask your supervisor to write you a letter of recommendation. If you wait until you are actually applying for a job, he or she might not remember you especially if it is a big company.
Talk to people in the lunch room. Ask them to share their experiences in various aspects of the business. Listen carefully. Wait until they are through talking to ask questions. Most people enjoy being experts, and you can gain valuable knowledge of how to handle real situations. Discuss trends and how the future of the company and the industry looks.
If you are known as a friendly person and a good listener, you will have no trouble making friends. These friends may or may not become contacts, but stay in touch with as many as you can. They can keep you updated on the industry and possibly help you get a job. Or, you’ll just have more friends. Nothing wrong with that.
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