Summer is almost here. For those of you with jobs or internships, take the time to plan on making the most of your opportunity. Mentors and people who you may want recommendations from are almost always on the lookout for promising young talent. One of your other goals should be to turn your experience into a resume builder.
Stand out with your professionalism. Do what you can to show the company you’re the one they should be watching and giving the plum assignments to. Be professional, serious and responsible. This should earn you more respect and responsibility. Be on time for work, meetings, conference calls and team building exercises. Even better – come early. Make sure you dress for success, too.
Reset your expectations. It’s good to have personal goals but sometimes realities don’t match our expectations. Rather than dwell on any negatives of the job or internship, seek out and embrace the opportunities offered. Chances are you won’t be given that assignment that saves the company and makes you a star. But, that’s not why you’re there. You’re there to learn, expand your horizons, and add to your resume. No matter what, always be enthusiastic and upbeat.
Be proactive. If your job or internship appears to be a sea of repetitive tasks like making photocopies or coffee, don’t complain. Ask to have a meeting with your supervisor to ask about new opportunities or projects. If there is a job you want to try, ask your supervisor if you can join the team, observe the meetings or otherwise contribute in some way. You won’t know, unless you ask. Even if they say no, you will gain the respect and attention of your older colleagues. Interns and employees who identify their employer’s needs and ask for new challenges demonstrate the initiative and motivation that companies want.
Learn about yourself. You’re there to watch and observe. Use this time to find out more about yourself. See what kind of people you relate to. What kind of work you like to do. Compare yourself to people on the job who you admire. Do they have skills you lack or can work on acquiring?
Build up your resume. Volunteer for extra tasks and look for opportunities to take advantage of. To do this, the best first step is to prove that you’re responsible and resourceful. Then, let’s say, you’re working in an ice cream shop and your boss needs to leave a few hours early, volunteer to be put in charge. If you’re given the responsibility to lead, this counts on your resume as Management. If you’re working in an advertising firm and think you might want to be a copywriter, ask for the current assignments. Write the ads then ask for feedback. Who know, they may even love your ad so much, they’ll run it.
Ask questions. Always remember that a summer job or internship is a learning experience for you. While your employer expects to get some work from you, you are expected to be interested in what’s going on. So ask questions. This is your chance to get advice and learn.
Make connections. Build up personal relationships. Find a mentor. After the summer is over make sure to stay in touch with the people you met and connected with – and stay connected. It’s never too early to start building your professional network. A professionally geared site like LinkedIn.com is a good place to keep in touch.
Develop your professional people skills. Hone in on people you admire. Study the qualities you admire in them. Take notes on their dress and what character traits put them ahead. Then try to emulate those traits.
Learn to take criticism gracefully. No one likes to be criticized, but you’re sure to encounter many negative opinions throughout your life and career. Criticism can help you. Follow up a negative assessment by asking for their thoughts on what you could have done better. Are there resources you don’t know about? Is it true you need to be more detail-oriented. And then put that information to use. The best part about a summer job or internship is that you’re not expected to know everything. Both you and your employer know that you are there to learn.
Always, always stay enthusiastic and positive!