5 Tips for a Successful Internship

Photo courtesy of adpowers via flickr

 

Sam George

This post is written by Sam George, intern on Cision’s social media team. He started Oct. 1, relocating from London to Chicago, and will be interning here for a year. 

I admit it was scary business starting up a new internship, particularly in a foreign country. I created some sort of expectation in the back of my mind; I knew what I wanted to achieve from the internship, I relocated 4000 miles for a reason, and with ambitions. But with the science of hindsight, there are a few pieces of advice I would like to impart – things to focus on in those first few weeks that will resonate throughout your internship, no matter what industry you’re in:

    • Make a game plan: I was told to “control the controllable.”  I nodded away every time it was said, I knew it. But it’s one thing to know it and another to really know it, to implement it, and administer thoroughly. When it comes to making a game plan, write down what it is you want to achieve that first week, month, year. You want to go beyond your natural progression, and create it. The goals are like the pearls of a necklace – the plans are the string that holds it together, without the string, the pearls fall apart.
    • Check your attitude: You are entering a world full of professionals and it’s important that you network effectively. This means building a personal relationship with people in your industry – within the company, and through the company to the outside world. However, it is essential that this is done as professionally as possible. You must be humble; a lot was achieved before you arrived. Be appreciative of yourself and others. Be generous. Build other people up, do things for others without prompting, and be as genuine as possible.

    •  Be curious: About what? Everything. Start reading up on the industry and create curiosity by learning as much about it as you can. By being curious it helps keep you up-to-date with the ever-changing world. Ask questions of colleagues, research, actively seek opportunities, find out what you’re good at, and do it better. This will help you to analyze your potential and demonstrates to your employers and colleagues that you are genuinely interested. Challenge yourself.
    • Be part of the company: It is important for your own progression, and for the company’s view of you as a whole. Use words like “we” and “our.” You and your employer will feel like you belong, that you are an employee and not just an intern.
    • Get things finished!: It’s hard when you want to impress, yet you feel most colleagues could easily do what you have been assigned. I rarely run out of time completely, but due to my critical nature, I am a bit of a perfectionist. This means things get done slower and not necessarily any better. Learn to under promise, but over deliver. Like I said before, be humble about what you can achieve, then work efficiently at it and produce something you’re proud of. A lot of the time it’s better to finish than it is to have it perfect.

I’ve been here a month and I am nicely settled. I’ve gotten to know people inside the office (and a few outside), have a good run down of the company, how things tend to work, who’s who, and what’s what, and I hope you experience the same at your internship. It’s now time to start thinking as the company, for the company, and for your industry. Think from within, learn from without.



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