Whether you’re just starting in your career, or have decided to pursue a new direction work-wise, it is important to get as much experience and knowledge as you can, as soon as you can. A great way to go about doing this, and to also get your foot in the door at companies you’d love to work for, is through becoming an intern.
To ensure you stand out for all the right reasons during your work placement though, you need to find ways to impress everyone you deal with. Read on for some key ways you can make a good impression when you’re the “new kid on the block” at a firm.
1. Preparation Is Vital
For starters, preparation is vital and can make a big difference in not only how you are perceived by those you deal with at the company, but also to how much you can get out of the role.
Before you step through the front doors, ensure you’ve spent a good amount of time researching the business online and in books or magazines or any other spots you can, so that you’re not having to play catch up so much on your first day.
It’s a good idea to become familiar with the company’s various departments, if relevant, as well as its products or services. Work out what the brand is known for (that is, what does it do differently to its competitors); what its big successes have been over the years; and how the firm first got started.
Learn as much as you can about who the key team members are, especially the main people you’ll be working with, and what the culture within the company is like (social media, newsletters, and the firm’s website can be particularly helpful for this).
You might want to set up a Google Alert a few months or weeks before you begin your internship too, so that you can be notified of any pertinent breaking news about the company.
When it comes to preparation, it helps to re-read the position description for your internship many times before you start.
Knowing this inside and out will help you understand exactly what kind of tasks you may need to handle during your time in the role, and the most important skills or knowledge the hiring manager or other contact is looking for.
If you’re not clear about certain aspects of the position when it comes to beginning your internship, don’t be too afraid to reach out for clarification.
The person who hired you would no doubt be happy to see you being proactive and asking questions, rather than arriving unprepared or at the wrong time or place.
With plenty of details, you can spend time researching or brushing up on things before you start, such as refreshing your ability to use a particular computer program.
The more prepared you are for your internship, the more you will be able to help others each day, and the more you will make a good impression as a result.
2. Present Yourself Professionally in Every Way
Next, keep in mind that the way you present yourself can have a huge impact on how you are perceived during your internship. It doesn’t matter that you’re not a permanent hire; you need to look and act every bit as professionally as if you were starting as a full-time employee.
To “dress for success”, it helps to speak to your direct supervisor, a hiring manager, or another key contact about what kind of dress code the company has. This will ensure you fit in from day one.
If you’re still not clear on the best outfit choice though, remember that it’s always better to dress formally than to be too casual.
Dressing professionally will help you to convey a good impression to your supervisor(s) and co-workers at the company, plus make it easier for you to feel more at ease and confident. This, in turn, can boost your ability to perform well in your duties, and then help you to impress those around you.
Having a professional appearance can also potentially mean doing your hair and makeup; ensuring your clothing is clean, wrinkle-free, and not sporting any holes or other issues; and also keeping your nails neat and tidy, and not wearing too much over-the-top jewelry or perfume.
Depending on the company you’re interning at, you may also need to cover up tattoos or remove body piercings. If you attend company or industry functions, also ensure you don’t drink too much, insult people you meet, get too loud, or otherwise cause a scene and/or an issue for the firm you’re interning with.
You need to get along well with others, too, and avoid getting into arguments with any staff members.
Furthermore, to stand out as an intern, take the opportunity seriously and treat your time as if you were already employed by the firm. Don’t spend lots of time checking your social media status, video-chatting with friends, gossiping, or flirting with co-workers.
Arrive on time and never leave work early, and volunteer to stay back to help finish up projects as required. This shows you take the work seriously and are committed to the internship.
Another way to present yourself professionally is via the written word. Because you likely wish to be offered a permanent job after your internship ends, or at least receive referrals to other companies and/or receive a great testimonial, make sure your social media profiles and resume are up to date and professional.
Be careful not to post any potentially risky material on your Facebook, Twitter, or other social pages, so that people don’t look you up and find out things they didn’t want to know about you – such as that you’re a messy drunk, bully people online, or make disparaging remarks about the company.
Also, ensure you get a resume review from a trusted, experienced professional, just in case a hiring manager or business owner takes another look at your documents to see if you would be the right fit for a permanent role.
3. Be Proactive and Willing to Learn
Lastly, you’ll make a good impression as an intern if you’re proactive. Don’t constantly wait for jobs to be given to you; instead, find ways to preempt what tasks might need to be done, and just go ahead and do them, or offer to do so when meeting with your managers or colleagues.
Go the extra mile in everything you do, and take initiative when it comes to learning new things, asking relevant questions, and meeting new people within the firm.
Doing all of this as an intern will impress your bosses and other team members, and show what you’d be like as a permanent employee. This then makes it much more likely that you’ll be remembered for all the right reasons by the end of your placement.