5 Tips on How to Get the Most out of Your Internship

This fall marks the start of a lot of great things in my life: the start of my senior year, the start of my study abroad experience to London, and the start of a new apartment lease with my best friend. It also marks the end of my internship here at Intrinzic, where I have spent three months shadowing the account team on day-to-day tasks. I’ve interned a few times before, but with this experience under my belt I’m ready to share some of the tips I’ve learned from the inimitable experience of professional practice.

Note: These are my tips—right, wrong or indifferent—so please take everything you read here with a grain of salt and tailor them to your own personal experiences.

Tip #1: Questions Aren’t a Sign of Weakness

If I have learned anything from interning it is that questions don’t mean you are dumb or incapable of your job. They just indicate that you have hit a roadblock that you can’t jump over yourself. At Intrinzic, team members pride themselves on their “Brand Collaborative” model, because they know one person can’t get the job done alone. Everyone has a specialty, so when you find yourself out of your wheelhouse, pick up the phone, peek over your cubicle, shoot an email, or walk over to someone’s desk with your head held high knowing that what you are asking will better yourself and grow your knowledge base. If you still find it hard to ask? There’s also something called Google and it is a great tool to help.

Tip #2: Step Up to the Plate

As an intern, you are shadowing and helping some very busy and smart people. This does not mean those people won’t help you and give you stuff to do, but it does mean that they are running at 110% a good amount of the day. After all, they didn’t hire an intern because they sit around all day watching Netflix! So, whether it’s in your 1:1 meetings or just sending an email, make sure you are always asking, “Is there anything I can help you with?” or “Hey, I heard you talking about ‘xyz’ can I sit in on that meeting or take part?” No, they will not always have something they need you to lend a hand on, but when you show initiative they will reach out in the future with tasks.

Tip #3: Give it All You’ve Got

You are at your internship for 3-4 months to learn as much as you can. You better make those months and hours count. If you just come in, sit at your desk, do the tasks you are given, and don’t push yourself to learn or grow, you will not get enough out of this experience. You have to think to yourself, “What am I going to have to show for this experience?” Whether that is in future interviews where you can speak to your experience, or showing your managers you are here for the long haul when they offer you a job or continued internship. Remember: the doors open before 9 and they stay open longer than 5 and that might be what it takes for you to get the work done and learn from it.

Tip #4: Get Involved

Through my prior internships I have tried to find ways to get involved outside of work. Last summer, I was part of a softball team, and this summer I joined Intrinzic’s “Culture Club”, where I helped plan different parties and activities in the office—from baby showers to a staff retreat. This was a great way to interact with people outside of the 9-5 and actually get to know my coworkers on a personal level. If your company has other interns, or even if they don’t, reach out to the team for Friday lunches or drinks after work. As an intern, you are coming into this company where everyone already knows each other and you’re the outsider for a time. By putting yourself out there, you will meet people and make an actual connection with them that will eventually make you an insider.

Tip #5: Make an Impact

Finally, try to make an impact with the people you work with. No, a client may not have seen the work I completed and it probably didn’t cure cancer or have the biggest ROI, but if the people I work with hear or see my name and can remember me for the better, that’s a win for me. When I apply for future jobs, that new company very well might call previous employers and ask about how I was an intern. I hope that they are able to say, “Nathan came in and completed every task effectively, was always looking for a way to get involved, and was a pleasure to work with.”

Internships offer a lot of benefits. You get 3-4 months to see if you would enjoy the job you are doing for the long term and with more responsibility, but it’s up to you to make an impact on the organization. And when you are there, make sure you feel it is a good culture fit. If you don’t enjoy your co-workers and you dread going into work almost everyday, then the place isn’t for you. The same job you love is probably offered at another company with people you might connect more closely with.

I hope that I was able to take my own advice this summer with Intrinzic, make an impact on my coworkers, and show initiative on the work that was assigned to me. They certainly allowed me to define my role to grow my knowledge and experiences so that I’m ready for the next challenge I face on my way to finding that dream job.