Disclaimer: This article content has been compiled by individuals who work at Accenture and who may represent Accenture at recruiting events, however, the views addressed in this article are not at all indicative of Accenture or Accenture Recruiting’s official opinions or beliefs.
Congratulations — your internship is secured and classes are almost over! Now you can kick back and relax — that is, until the start of your internship.
Within a few short weeks, you’ll be stepping back into the professional world, so don’t slack off just yet. Your internship is a huge opportunity to learn more about an industry, impress your co-workers and get a head start on launching your future career.
For many interns like you, performing well will come naturally. But in a crowd of high-performers, how can you make yourself memorable? Read on for a few tips on standing out as a star intern.
Whether it’s your first or third internship, first impressions count. More often than not, your first day will set expectations for the rest of your internship. So even before you step into the office, make sure that you’ve done the necessary work to ensure that your first day starts off on the right note.
These are few things to check off before your first day:
- Sort out the nitty gritty details.
From “where to go” to “how to get there”, make sure you have the day-of logistics down pat. Sending out a quick email to your manager to get their contact details can save you time if you can’t find the office or get lost on campus. And small things like mapping out your commute at the right time can make sure you don’t get stuck in traffic on your first day!
2. Dress the part.
This tip could be combined into “figuring out the details” above, but I think it’s important enough to stand on its own. Depending on the industry — consulting, finance, marketing/PR, etc — work attire can vary rather drastically. Before you begin, do a little snooping. Ask your manager or other teammates what kind of dress is expected for a typical day at the office. Looking the part can help your co-workers think of you as a peer, rather than just another intern.
3. Do your homework.
School might be out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared! Before your first day, make sure you’ve completed all of the pre-requisites. Whether its paperwork, trainings, or doing a bit of research into the company, your manager will expect you to hit the ground running on your first day. So reach out to them or your intern coordinator to make sure you’ve checked all the boxes.
4. Reach out!
If you’re lucky enough to have other individuals in your intern class, then tap into that network. Get to know a few people before the first day to get your silly questions answered or simply to introduce yourself. Remember — these could be your future co-workers, so get to know one another. After all, your peers are the best support network you’re going to have.
So you’ve survived your first day — you’re an official working person! But just because you’ve made it through the first week, doesn’t mean we’re ready to let you off the hook. Making a good first impression is a good step in the right direction, but you’re going to need hard work and dedication to really prove yourself. Here are a few tips to help you elevate your intern performance from good to great.
1. Think Job, Not Internship
Just because you’re an intern doesn’t mean you have to treat yourself like one. And by that, we simply mean — don’t sell yourself short! Set goals for yourself as if you were a full-time employee and set your expectations to the same level as your co-workers. Even though you’re working in a temporary role, the impact you leave behind doesn’t have to be. So don’t just restrict yourself to your intern role; seek out (and volunteer for) opportunities to prove yourself. Remember — your internship is a potential path to your future career, so go above and beyond your intern duties to show that you’re ready for full-time.
2. Create a Dialogue around Performance & Expectations
One of the biggest pitfalls I often see with interns is never truly understanding their roles and responsibilities. Without understanding and discussing expectations with your manager, how can you expect to improve? From the very beginning of your internship, you should be in constant communication with your manager about your role, responsibilities, and expectations. Whether its defining SMART goals for the entirety of your internship, defining internship milestones, or simply tackling a project you’ve been assigned, make sure you’ve set up regular meetings with your manager to continually manage these expectations and receive feedback on your performance. These regular sync-ups could be as frequent or far apart as needed, but you should actively use this time to ask your manager which areas you can improve in. This type of behavior will not only help your manager take your personal development seriously, but demonstrates that you’re here to learn and produce great work — not pad your resume.
3. Become a Problem Solver — Take Action!
As an intern, it can be easy to fall into the mentality of always asking for permission. But as you familiarize yourself with your role, get in the habit of being proactive. When you see problems or area that can improve, don’t just sit there — find a solution! Show your manager that you can be a leader both inside and outside of your defined responsibilities. One simple way of doing so is using your extra time to assist your teammates. This not only demonstrates your teamwork capabilities, but is also a good way of exposing yourself to different facets of your team. Another action is to identify high-impact, low-intensity work — perhaps documentation that needs updating or a workshop that needs to be planned. Often in large companies, this type of work can be largely ignored and yet, still completely crucial to the team’s performance. As an intern, you can step up to manage these areas in tandem with your existing roles and show that you’re invested in the performance of the team as a whole. And, of course, another way is to simply say yes — volunteer for tasks and opportunities that become available, and you’ll find yourself leaving your mark in no time!
4. Get To Know the People
When you were recruiting, your biggest challenge was getting a foot inside the door. Well, now that you’re on the inside, don’t forget to keep building and strengthening your network! You were interested in this internship for a reason — now get to know as many people as you can! Your team doesn’t have to be the limiting factor; get to know people in different departments or roles and find out what interests you. Remember, every introduction you make is an opportunity to discover a new area of interest or work you would like to pursue.
You’ve successfully completed your internship. Congratulations! But, now what?
Send Your Thank You’s & Goodbyes
By the end of your internship, be sure to send out a goodbye email to the people you’ve met. Thank them for their time and advice, and don’t forget to send a thank you gift (if merited) to anyone that was of exceptional help and guidance.
In the long run, you’ll want to make sure that the connections you’ve made don’t dissipate after the internship. We’ve already written about maintaining your network, so for more tips on making those connections last, check out that previous article!
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