For college students, obtaining an internship is a near-requirement for future employment post-graduation. As entry-level positions become more specific regarding the job requirements, internships can determine if you are qualified enough for the role.
Although post-college employment is one of the main objectives of interning, interns should take the time to tackle as many opportunities as possible. An internship is an excellent chance to develop new skills, test out a variety of career paths, better understand the fast-paced working environment and form lasting connections. Here are five ways to make the most of an internship.
Set Clear Goals
Just like any other job, it is critical to understand the expectations of your role in order to gain structure and meaning throughout the internship. Share with your supervisor what you want to learn and how you are planning to do so. From here, you will be able to determine what needs to be adjusted to align your goals with the expectations of the job. Whether your goal is to test what it is like to work in a specific career field or receive a full-time job offer, focus on what can be done to positively impact your career path and the Company.
“I wanted to gain an understanding of the roles and responsibilities in each department,” said Jordan, Werner Enterprises Summer Intern. “It was an important goal of mine to determine if my desired field was the correct fit, or if there are other areas my skill set would match better. Throughout our internship program, we were given a chance to set up job shadows with any department we saw a foreseeable future with, or just wanted to acquire a better understanding of their job. Adaptability is a crucial skill in the workforce, and sometimes the unexpected career changes or interests might end up being the best direction to go.”
Expand Your Industry Knowledge
Increasing your industry knowledge is a fantastic way to stay updated about challenges, changes and developments within the industry. Consider finding a mentor within the organization who can provide up-to-date information and share the realities of daily operations. View the internship as a chance to seek out a variety of job opportunities within the Company and observe how the different roles come together to reach the ultimate end goal. Those who have knowledge among different departments within the business have a better understanding of the Company.
At Werner, interns have a general understanding of the Transportation industry. Following relevant industry publications such as Inbound Logistics, Transport Topics and FreightWaves helped them stay on top of industry trends. Another way Werner interns were able to expand their knowledge about the Company, and the industry, was by listening in on the annual Werner Transportation Forum. This provided valuable insight on the Company and its future.
Due to the recent pandemic, communication channels have changed dramatically. While not everyone is back in the office and some meetings are still held virtually, communicating face-to-face whenever possible increases your professional relationships with co-workers and clients. To be an even more effective communicator, think about combining verbal and nonverbal communication to provide reassurance. In addition, do not dismiss the importance of focusing on listening skills, body language and creating concise messages.
Make New Connections
Having an internship provides a valuable opportunity to connect with those you may not have outside of the job. Whether they turn into friends, mentors or professional contacts, the people you meet may be a bridge to networking opportunities throughout your career. Another way to get involved is as simple as following companies and industry leaders on social media. By looking at industry leaders’ accounts, specifically on LinkedIn, you will have a better idea of the route you could take to get to where you want to be in the industry. From here, strike up a conversation with these leaders to create a personal connection that could lead to follow-up opportunities. Every conversation is a chance to create a memorable relationship that could enhance your window of opportunity.
Reflect on Your Experience
Many internships have review processes to see what you’ve learned or accomplished, but if there is no formal review, make sure to reach out to your supervisors and reflect on tasks you have done well and areas where you may need some improvement. Take the time to note various skills, projects and experiences gained throughout the role as an intern so you can update your LinkedIn profile, resume and professional portfolio. Determine if the career field is right for you and what steps can be taken to seek growth opportunities.
Showcasing your skillset, exceeding supervisor expectations and showing how you will be an asset to the team, will strengthen your chances of becoming full-time and your overall internship experience.