So, you’ve finished the school year. Hooray! But, guess what, your work is far from over — especially if you’ve gone ahead and landed yourself a summer internship. That’s because an internship isn’t merely a job, or a resume-builder. It’s a time to discover what you really want to do with your life, make connections that can help you after graduation, and serve as an audition for a full-time job.
That’s why we’ve asked Joan Kuhl, founder of Why Millennials Matter, for her tips on making the most out of your summer internship. Follow her advice, and you could be getting a job offer (or at least some killer references) by season’s end.
Practice your introduction
First impressions are key. “People are making judgments about you based on how you look and talk in the first six to seven seconds,” says Kuhl. But, you can help control your initial impact by coming up with a killer intro. “Don’t just say your name, say how you’re so excited to be working there, tie it into your major and your passion,” she advises. And, because even the most poised of us can stumble sometimes, prepare and practice your two-sentence intro ahead of time, so you’ll be sure to deliver when push comes to shove.
Make yourself known
The most successful interns don’t just do what’s asked of them. They make noise. “Sometimes you have students who work so hard, but they put head down and do the work and that’s all,” says Kuhl. Ask lots of questions, offer to take on extra responsibilities and put yourself in front of different managers in different departments (you never know who will be hiring). “It’s about having a voice and building a brand, credibility and a reputation,” says Kuhl.
Bust their age biases
Unfortunately, some people you will come across at your internship will have some preconceived notions about millennials. The trick is to anticipate these biases and act the opposite way to prove you’re different. “Some stereotypes of millennials are that they’re lazy, they don’t want to roll up their sleeves, they feel entitled to a promotion even if they didn’t put in the hard work,” says Kuhl. “Always be on time, professional and appropriate. Show that you have a high regard for work and are a great ambassador for the company.”
Seek out managers, co-workers and colleagues who inspire you and form relationships with them; they may just help you later in your career. “Twenty percent of actual available jobs are not posted,” says Kuhl. “If you’re not building relationships over the summer, you won’t have enough contacts to have sources to tell you about these opportunities. Every one of my jobs and promotions came that way.”
Don't give up
Hate your internship? "The worst thing to do is just go through the motions,” says Kuhl. “Sit down and reflect on why you don’t like it, and what kind of work you might actually enjoy. Maybe you can find another department at the same company that’s more suited for you — set up a coffee meeting with someone in that department. See what other career paths it can offer you, but don’t just cross the company off your list.”
Joan Kuhl will be giving her expert advice at 92Y in New York City on Thursday, June 4, at 7 p.m. You can find out more and purchase tickets here .