Remember when our lives were consumed with filling out college applications, touring collegiate campuses, and then finally making that one very important decision that had the potential to impact the rest of our lives? This was just yesterday, wasn’t it? Now we are deep into the college years, with our futures looming right around the corner. Scary, right?
In college, maintaining a high GPA is deemed very important. However, fast forward, and most employers are looking to hire grads who have equal work experience and good grades.
Therefore, getting a relevant internship and accumulating real-world work experience is the best way we can prepare ourselves and our resumes for the future.
That said, I must admit, for the past couple of months, I have been stressed out about finding my first summer internship. How can I position myself as the best candidate for a highly competitive position when I don’t have relevant work experience, short of a stint as a summer camp counselor and a waitress? Why would ABC Company choose me over someone who has had an internship for the past 2 summers?
The purpose of this article is to arm those with this mindset (and to subtly remind myself!) that while we might be lacking in real-world experience, we already possess many relevant skills and qualities. It’s all in the way we frame the experiences we do have. And once we have secured the position – making the most of every minute of that coveted summer internship.
1. Expand your mindset.Whether you find yourself immersed in challenging work that allows you to develop new skills, or performing routine grunt work, keep a big picture perspective. Ask “why” these tasks are important, so you can understand how this process fits into the overall business. Take every opportunity to learn and grow. If you expect it to be boring, it will be, so don’t trip yourself up with negative thinking.
2. Keep a “Can-Do" attitude.Your bosses will appreciate it if you volunteer to do the work no one else wants to do. Even when something seems boring, it can demonstrate a useful skill, such as knowing how to use Excel or the ability to organize a vast amount of information. Be sure to keep track of every accomplishment, because when it is over you will want to sum up your summer experience into three to five bullet points that you can use on your resume.
3. Ask questions.Throughout the entire internship, it is important to not only listen and absorb information but also ask questions. Asking intelligent questions will help you both stand out and ensure that you gain a strong understanding of the business. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or admit you don’t understand something. After all, we are interns, here to learn as much as we can about the business.
4. Grow a thick skin.Receiving feedback is critical to any internship and is a valuable part of the learning experience. Accepting and incorporating negative feedback demonstrates that you are coach-able, an important quality in an employee. Also, if you find that you aren’t getting feedback in your summer internship, speak up. It will demonstrate to your boss your desire to learn and improve, and hear what she has to say.
So go on out there and get started in finding that internship. I hope these tips serve you well. Maybe we will be future co-workers someday if our internships go well!