Tips for Being a Stand-Out Intern

Two smiling female students with their laptops on the desk.

Flickr user OEA – OAS

While you’ll obviously be quite busy during your degree program, working on your studies and potentially in a part-time job as well, it’s important to spend time thinking about your career prospects and pathways right now, even though you haven’t yet graduated.

To ensure you land a great job once you have completed your degree, it pays to get as much knowledge and experience about your preferred industry ASAP. A good way to go about doing this and ensure you get in front of your future potential job competition is to become an intern.

Getting an internship at a key company can help you to develop excellent industry contacts, add helpful experience to your resume and even potentially give you a foot in the door at the company for full-time work once you’ve graduated.

To make the most of your internship, make sure you search for the best firm possible for providing you career experience. For example, if you’re currently completing an online engineering degree, you’ll be looking to intern within one of the biggest engineering firms in your region or will want to work in a company that isn’t specifically engineering based but that utilizes engineers in its day-to-day activities.

Once you’ve found the perfect internship for you, it’s time to make sure you stand out for all the right reasons during your time at the company. You want to impress those you encounter and leave a lasting, positive impression. Read on for some tips you can follow to be a stand-out intern on your next placement.

Prepare Thoroughly

Before you start as an intern, find out as much as you can about the company you’ll be working in and the people you’ll be associating with, particularly the key management staff. It pays to understand the corporate culture, too.

Become familiar with various departments in the firm as well as the wares that it sells. Try to understand what the brand is known for and how it stands apart from its competitors. Also important is history and its major successes over the years.

It’s also wise to re-read the position description for the internship multiple times. Doing this will help you to understand your tasks plus the types of skills, knowledge or input needed to do the job well. Ask for clarification from your contact at the business if need be. People are always happy to see that interns are doing what they can to prepare.

Once you have all this information at your disposal, you will start your first day with confidence and insight. The more prepared you are, the more quickly you will pick up things in the office and the less you’ll need to bother other workers. This will all help you make a good impression.

Always Be Professional

Of course, it’s also vital that you’re professional in every way during your internship. View it like you’re joining the firm as another staff member rather than as an intern. Being professional starts with what you wear and how you groom. Always wear appropriate clothing for the office environment you’re joining, and look like you have taken care with your appearance. If in doubt as to what to wear, go more formal than less as you never want to look too casual.

Apart from dressing for success, you should also look people in the eye during conversation and introduce yourself with a handshake and your name whenever you meet new contacts. Communicate articulately, in both written and verbal forms, and always listen and pay attention when others are speaking. Don’t interrupt or use body language such as crossing your arms or fidgeting, which may make it seem you’re not interested.

Be polite to everyone you encounter, even if you might feel like doing otherwise, and always avoid getting into arguments with any of the company’s staff members or any other contacts, especially customers, suppliers, investors and the like. Take advantage of the opportunity to network with industry members; just be honest about your role in the firm, and never lie to try and make yourself seem more important.

Show You’re Willing to Learn and Have Initiative

The best interns are those who show they’re willing to learn and can take initiative. Don’t always wait for people to give you jobs; if you’ve finished a task and don’t have anything else yet on your list, see if you can find something to do. Preempting what may come next can help those you work with to see you’re taking your role seriously and are a good asset to the team. In addition, ask relevant questions whenever you can to show your interest.