Updated: Sep 5
Despite the determined efforts of COVID, you have a coveted internship this summer. Even in a booming economy, there are never enough internships to go around, so congratulations on snagging one.
There are about a hundred things every intern should do to have a successful internship, but we'll focus on the basics. Because if you've got the basics of anything covered, you're 80% of the way there.
The ultimate goal for most interns is to experience an organization, role, and to potentially turn the internship into a full-time job offer. In order to be most successful at the latter, you need to do some of the following:
Show up on time.
Companies historically haven't taken to virtual-work because they lose physical control over an employee. Before the pandemic, you would have been in the office at a certain time and seated at your desk for however long your shift dictates. Now, companies have no choice but to trust their interns to be self-motivated and to pilot their internship experience.
If your workday starts at 9am, you need to be signed in and available on Skype, Teams, etc by 8:59am. Especially if the people on your team start their day promptly. You absolutely shouldn't be the last person to come online - 9:03am is late. Just in case someone is actually paying attention, punctuality should not be where you lose points.
Got a meeting at noon? Don't sign in at 12:03pm, after everyone else has joined the meeting.
The best way to be on time is to be early.
Ask for work & feedback.
On Monday morning, assuming you're logged in and ready for the day but don't have work to do, send an email to your team. Tell them you're ready to get this week rolling and ask if anyone has a task you can assist on.
The challenge of virtual-work is that you're going to be out of sight, thus people might forget you exist.
It is not in your interest to spend your day on Snapchat while you're logged in as Available on Skype. If you don't do any work, your performance might be difficult to assess, especially in a virtual world.
When you've actually done work, ask for feedback, in the same email as the deliverable.
"Is it what you expected"?
"I would appreciate some feedback on the work."
Introduce yourself to people.
Whereas you would have been running into people in the elevator and hallways, virtually, you're going to have to use your email and instant messaging to make connections.
You're the newbie, so it's on you to reach out.
"Hi, my name is Darryl, and I'll be interning for the next 3weeks. I just wanted to say hello. If you have work I could assist with, I'd be delighted to get right on it."
Do this for teams outside of your own if work is slow within your group.
Make connections across the board, on every level.
The best possible outcome in any internship is leaving a mark.
If at the end of your internship, your team is still using a template, methodology, or process you put in place, you've done a great job.
However, it's important to understand when to follow the old process or try to change things.
At the beginning of your internship, ask your team if you should be looking at process improvement. They'll most likely say "Yes". Always consider the question "Is this the most efficient/effective way to do this task?"
Sometimes, for expediency, it'll be necessary to perform the task with the old method. Then you can go back when you're less busy and work on improving the process, especially if it requires building a new template or process flow.
Don't be obnoxious.
The #1 way to be annoying is by asking questions every 5 minutes or making people repeat themselves. An easy way to fix this is by:
Paying attention and taking notes when you're being instructed. This way you're clear on the task at hand and aren't asking someone to repeat themselves. We don't remember as much as we think we can.
Compile your questions so you're asking as many as possible, all at once.
Now, go forth and be great! Happy summer interning! :)