How to Be a Rock Star Intern

Last Updated Nov 19, 2009 10:28 AM EST

How to Rock Your InternshipA great internship can be a launching pad for an amazing career, but on the other hand, there are few things less inspiring that a mediocre one. Making coffee and copies and watching co-workers do exciting jobs while you complete repetitive, mindless tasks doesn't exactly drive the young go-getter to their best performance. But as 20-something marketing maven Ryan Stephens points out on his blog, the difference between a successful and a lackluster internship isn't all down to the company or the manager. Much of the responsibility for making an internship a valuable experience lies with the intern herself. So how can you rock your internship and up your chances of converting the opportunity into an awesome full-time gig? Stephens has suggestions:
  • Learn the company well enough to make your own suggestions.
  • Target a few of the employees you suspect you'd click with and get to know them. People like hiring people they'd get along with. If two people are equally talented, it's definitely a separating factor.
  • Don't burn yourself out. Working hard is extremely important, but if you try to do 12 hours a day, burn yourself out and half-ass your way through 8, we'll notice.
  • Don't limit yourself to the company you're interning with. Keep building your brand and exploring other options. If you've done awesome work, you can always leverage that for a recommendation and put your name in the hat other places.
  • Ask lots of questions. We'd rather you ask questions than use "I didn't know," or "I was confused" for not getting something done. Brownie points for figuring it out and executing on your own.
As a veteran intern myself (see my bio in the sidebar), I'd add that interns should think early on about what sort of accomplishments or projects they can complete. The actual work you do will be what gets you a gig afterward, not the company's name on the resume (though that won't hurt). If you don't see yourself ending up with anything concrete to show for your effort, propose something. It might be more work, but it'll probably be worth it and what boss would say no to more free labor? What other suggestions do experienced ex-interns have for those just beginning their internships?

(Image of metalhead rocking out by Lorri37, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.