Making the Most of Internship Opportunities

So you got the internship.  You polished your resume, applied, interviewed, and got your in.  Now what?  My darling, the games are only beginning.  Welcome to the extended interview for a future job with this company.  Over the next couple weeks/months, you will be watched for your work ethic and team working skills and evaluated for what you bring to the table.  Do well and you could have a more permanent job waiting for you, wrapped neatly with a pretty little bow.  Screw it up and you can forget even asking for letters of recommendation, let alone working for this company.  So how do you strut your stuff from a position of little to no autonomy?

  1. Network | If you applied for this internship, my guess is you are working in something you’re interested in and are looking to grow a career.  You are surrounded by people one step ahead of you.  Connect with them!  Get your name, ideas, and skills out there on display to grow your network.  This will help you moving forward to get references, letters of recommendations, and could get you a foot in the door for a position you’re interested in.
  2. Kiss a little ass | No one likes a brown-noser, it’s true.  But an internship is all about knowing whose butt to kiss and when.  Fun fact: when you’re paired with a staff member, they are the eyes and ears of the boss.  When you leave, the boss is asking them what they think of you and if you’d make a good future hire.  Go out of your way to make the best possible impression on that staff member.  If you’re going to get coffee, offer to get them some.  If they are swamped with work, offer to lend a hand and help out.  Make their life a little easier and they’ll recommend the company keep you around.
  3. Learn all you possibly can | Internships are meant to be learning experiences.  Don’t sit back and take it for an easy job.  You’re likely only in this position for a limited time and it is an opportunity that should not be taken for granted.  Go out and seek opportunity to learn more, grow and expand.  Talk to people to see what’s going on and never miss an opportunity to see something new.  Hear of something going on you’ve already seen?  Go see it anyway.  People don’t know what you already have learned and they will appreciate you chasing opportunity in your position.
  4. Journal about your experience | This will help you when working on your resume to form a summary statement of your time in this position because you will be able to see what you did, how you felt, and what you enjoyed.  To all my nurses or health care professionals, this can also help significantly with writing patient narratives, just remember to keep your journal HIPAA compliant by changing names and generalizing ages to remove all possible identifiers.  Journaling about your experience will also help to allow the experience to further shape you and your future career by forcing you to reflect on the position and your career path.
  5. Finish with a bang | Leaving a lasting impression with your co-workers and managers.   You want to show the business and people you interned with that you appreciate the time and investment they put in to your experience.  Send thank you notes and consider giving a gift.  It could be something as simple as bringing in treats on your last day or something more elaborate like going out to purchase a gift for specific people you worked with that you think they’ll enjoy.  Get creative with it and make it something you’re proud of.  Whatever you choose to do, work with your heart and use this as an opportunity to show your appreciation in a physical manner.  Make sure you finish it off with a sweet letter to your manager thanking him/her again for the opportunity and wishing you’ll see them again in the future.  This will make them glad they chose you for the position and make them want to hire you in the future for a more permanent position.
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K-cup “cake” Ingredients: Large recycled cardboard box Protractor (or two pencils tied together with a string) Box cutter (or scissors) White paint Wooden letters Paper towel roll Tape Plastic bags Clear plastic wrapping Streamers Bunch of K-cups (tip: buy a big box of K-cups from Costco or BJs and use the box as the bases as well!) Directions: 1. Using the protractor, draw a circle the size you wish for the base and the tiers of the “cake” on the cardboard. Cut the circles out using scissors or a box cutter. 2. Paint the pieces of carboard and the letters and let dry overnight. 3. Using pieces of tape about 4 inches long attach cut pieces of paper towel roll to the center of each tier, connecting them together at top and bottom of the center paper towel roll to create a template for the cake. Tip: cut the piece of tape length ways halfway up each piece, wrap the split portion around the end of the paper towel roll pieces and attach the flat portion to the bases. 4. Using plastic bags, wrap around the center on the tiers as needed to allow some cushioning for the cups and more surface area for the cups to fit appropriately. Note: this may not need done for each tier, play around with it and test where you need a little space. I used one full bag around the bottom base and half a bag around the third tier up from the bottom. 5. Stack the K-cups around the base starting from the center out to arrange the tiers. When finished with one level, wrap a long piece of tape all the way around the level to secure into place. 6. Wrap streamers around each tier to cover the tape securing the cake. 7. Wrap in clear wrapping, tie a bow on top, tape your letters on, and snap a pic to send my way! Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Final reminder: remember how happy and excited you were when you first received this opportunity.  Take each day for all the potential it has and take advantage of each door that is opened for you.  Stay humble and grateful for everything this internship brings you – the good and the bad.  There are bound to be days when you’re just not feeling it and that’s okay, but remind yourself why you are there and the excitement you had when you found out you’d get this opportunity.  Best of luck on this adventure and I hope you get out of this all you could possibly want!

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