5 ways to make your summer internship a valuable experience

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As the spring semester comes to a close, many students have cemented their plans for the summer months. While some spend their days lounging by the pool and soaking in the long-awaited sunshine, others will be hard at work at internships and jobs.

Landing the internship is just the first step, however. Putting yourself in a position to succeed and make your internship a truly valuable experience is the main challenge.

Here are five ways to gain the most out of your summer internship:

1. Come prepared
The worst thing you can do is go in to your first day on the job unprepared. First impressions can sometimes be the last impression you make, so make sure that you put your best foot forward.

This means that you do a little studying beforehand, know the basics and even the dress the part.

Being a professional means that you know how to conduct yourself in the field. Coming prepared is the first step to showing your company that you are ready to learn how to be a professional.

2. Show your boss that you’re eager to learn
Nobody wants a job where you’re just filing papers and getting coffee. It’s boring and hardly motivates you to to go to work every day.

You have been selected for this internship because you have shown the potential to be successful in the position; it’s up to you, however, to prove them right.

One of the biggest character traits that employers generally look for is curiosity and a desire to learn more than the surface-level skills. Show that you want to be more than just an intern and you will most likely treated as such.

3. Follow instructions carefully
There may be nothing more annoying than an intern who messes things up because he or she didn’t follow directions. Pay attention to what your assignments are, who you are working under and what your deadlines are.

In the professional world, there is very little margin for error. If a client is paying to have work done, that client will expect a professional quality of work, which means your employer will expect quality work out of you.

If you’re confused, ask questions. If you disagree with something, bring it up with your supervisor in a courteous manner. The last thing you want to do is screw up because of your poor attention span.

4. Don’t miss out on a chance to network
We all know the old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While that may not be completely factual, there is a kernel of truth to the statement.

Career success is often dependent on the exposure that you get to the people that matter, otherwise known as “face time.” The more people you meet the more bridges you build, and the more bridges you build the more pathways to success that you have.

Building your own network takes patience, diligence and organization. You have to keep track of who you have met and make a point to stay in touch with them regularly.

5. Go above and beyond
From a young age, most people are taught that “average” and “underachieving” are synonymous. In school, most people strive for A’s and B’s instead of settling for the average C.

In order to succeed at your internship, you must go into it with the same approach. Don’t settle for being “just another intern.”

You want your supervisor and your colleagues to remember you as someone who did more than what was expected. The more effort that you put into your internship, the more opportunities will come your way in the future.

Andy Rao is a junior in finance and accounting. Please send comments to news@kstatecollegian.com.

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