The job market continues to become more competitive every year. While a lot of people are beginning to realize that most careers REQUIRE you to have at least an Associate’s degree and sometimes even a Bachelor’s degree, these degrees do not guarantee job placement. Experience plays an enormous role in determining whether or not you are a suitable candidate for a position. The owner of the nation’s leading youth marketing agency once told me in regards to interning for his company that, “In order to get experience, you need to have experience.” While this puzzled me at the time, I quickly began to realize exactly what he meant. You need to start at the bottom in order to make it to the top. This may sound like a lot of work, but remember… You are in control of your future and the effort you put in now, as tedious and insignificant as it may seem, will pay off in the long run.

Internships allow you to not only gain experience that will look good on a resume, but they will also help you identify personal strengths, skills, and interests. There are a few basic things to remember before, during, and after your internship.

Know how to nail the interview –

  • Update up your resume with the most recent, relevant experience
  • Update your LinkedIn Profile
  • Learn as much as you can about the company beforehand
  • Dress appropriately: research the company’s culture/dress code and dress accordingly
  • Be prepared to answer questions carefully and thoughtfully (you are allowed to take a moment to think about the questions you are asked… use that time to come up with a well thought out, sincere response)
  • Come prepared with questions to ask the interviewer… but don’t ask questions that can easily be found online or on their website
  • Exude confidence (not presumptuousness), warmth and congeniality… these will leave a lasting impression
  • Always remember to send a thank you note!

Discuss expectations at the very beginning –

  • Vocalize to your supervisor what you hope to learn from your internship and ask them what they expect of you… It is always good to be on the same page

Work hard… No matter what –

  • Even if it may not be your dream internship, working hard will not only help develop your work ethic, but will prove to your supervisor that you are willing to work towards whatever it is that you want (and you will be able to, confidently, use them as a reference later on)

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, you are there to learn… But always try to find the answer on your own first –

  • If there are specific fields or projects that you are interested in, let your supervisor know. They may have research or portions of the project you can assist with
  • You can learn something from everyone, so remember to always listen and take notes

Take advantage of all networking opportunities –

  • Talk to that co-worker on your lunch break, volunteer to sit in on a brainstorming meeting, introduce yourself to the “big boss”… You never know when they could come in handy

Don’t be afraid to do a little grunt work –

  • There will be work that you won’t be too thrilled about, but it is part of the job. Make the most of it and prove to your supervisor that you can maintain a positive outlook no matter what task you are assigned
  • With that said, you are not their slave… Coffee runs and paper shredding are normal tasks for interns, but if that is all you are doing all day, every day, have a conversation with your supervisor and address the goals and expectations you mapped out at the start of your internship

Follow up –

  • Remember to send a thank-you note to your supervisor for taking you under their wing
  • Ask for a LinkedIn recommendation! Employers are looking at potential employee’s online presence now more than ever and having a recommendation from a previous supervisor is social proof that you have done what you claim

Internships are an amazing way to gain exposure, learn about yourself and build your resume. Though being a student intern may seem a bit overwhelming at times, I can promise you it will pay off in the long run. Take initiative… Start building your career today.

Guest Blogger - Emily LaPlume. Emily is a senior at Champlain College pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and minoring in Event Management. Emily has been a seasonal intern at GSCU for over three years and has also interned at The Capitol Center for the Arts, Brandthropology and Fuse Marketing.