BY BROOKE YALOF NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SENIOR
Brooke Yalof is a graduating senior from the journalism school at Northwestern University. She has had successful summer and semester internships at such companies as: Yelp, Digitas and Fresh Direct and has learned a few tips along the way. Here she shares how to make the most out of your summer internship.
Brooke: After enduring the lengthy and competitive internship application process, you might think you can now relax… you’ve found your dream job! Yet, finding an internship is just the beginning. From the start, you have to work hard and provide value to your team. Navigating the professional landscape is not always easy, but these following tips will help you nail your summer internship.
Do Your Research
Before even starting your job, become an expert on the company and the industry. Learn the mission and be able to identify chief executives — if you see them in the office, you should be able to say hi. Impress your managers with your knowledge about the industry. Read relevant publications and keep up with their news. First impressions are important, be prepared!
On Time Means Early
Always be early. It gives you time to prepare yourself for the day and get a jumpstart on your work before everyone else comes into the office. Prioritizing your job and being punctual shows your team that you are eager and excited to be there.
Don’t rush out of the office at the end of the day. If your employer or team is working late, ask if you can help. Cancel your plans if need be, you can always have dinner with your friends another night. A strong work ethic will not go unnoticed and can provide you with greater opportunities.
Energy is contagious, and offices, if for no other reason, value interns because they bring fresh blood into the workplace. Smile, make eye contact and stand tall. Pay attention to the dress code and look appropriate. If you come to work with a positive attitude and good vibes each and everyday, your team will feel it and remember you for it.
Go The Extra Mile
The best interns are the ones that can seamlessly integrate themselves into their teams. They anticipate tasks before they are delegated, and offer to do any and everything for their managers. No job is too small or trivial whether it’s running an errand, getting coffee or gathering research and data. Be assertive, ask for work and volunteer whenever possible. Leave your phone in your bag—don’t text or look at your Facebook page during the day. Your time to shine is short so give it 100%, stand out and be memorable.
Last impressions are just as important as first impressions. Don’t get lazy at the end, come in late or ask for any time off--even if things seem slow. Leave no loose ends, and make sure any projects assigned to you are finished. Commitment counts, give it your all till your last day.
After an internship, write handwritten thank you notes to your whole team. Reference specific projects you worked on together and conversations you had. Remember, they dedicated their summer to training you, it’s important to express your gratitude. In addition, send a digital thank you to anyone else in the office you may have worked with, providing him or her with your contact information so that they too can stay in touch. If you don’t have one, open a LinkedIn account, another great way to build a professional network. Throughout the summer, you’ve made important connections for future jobs and networking. Your coworkers can turn out to be wonderful references for subsequent opportunities.
A few weeks before your end date, schedule an exit interview with your immediate supervisor for your last week. Ask for feedback and advice--this is a great way to learn from your experience. Perhaps you can still contribute part time from school or during school breaks? Be open to constructive criticism, and be prepared—your supervisor might have questions for you on your experience and ways to improve their internship program. Interested in a real job at the company upon graduation? Now is the time to express your interest in a full time position. Keep in touch during the year, upon graduation even if they aren’t hiring, your supervisor might know someone who is.