Internship Success Blueprint: Mastering the Art of Standing Out and Securing Your Dream Job

by SFAN Staff · Career advice

Wed, 28 Feb 2018 · 3 minute read

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Internships are super
important for every college student today. Apart from them being ways of
exploring the world of work, they help you acquire job experience.
Recruiters will hire someone with a job experience rather than someone
with a general resume. 

(If you are looking for feasible tips and strategies on how to prepare for your dream career, level-up with this inside scoop from hiring managers.

Many companies are increasingly investing in internship programs as a
recruitment tool for full-time jobs. Therefore, your ability to
distinguish yourself from other interns contributes towards your chances
of getting hired. In this post, I will give you a cheat sheet for
making that happen! 

Have a clear goal  

I wish I could tell you that if you picked a few of the key elements
above, you will completely overhaul your learning experience. But the
reality is, you won’t.

It’s a complete package kind of thing, and you need to work on all
the tips in the article. Surely, acting on some is better than acting on
none, but the goal is to make the best of your study time and make
learning enjoyable.


Be a fast follower  

Here is a rule of thumb: the first reason for an internship is to
gain a hands-on, real-world application of what you study in college,
and to get an experience of what your everyday life will look like on
the job. So, to make the best of this opportunity you must learn as much
as you can from your colleagues and your assigned tasks.

There are two kinds of people in every company: the high achievers and the lagers.

Find out who the stars are and understudy them. Learn how they
approach their jobs, how they dress, communicate, relate to others, and
so on. Find out what makes them shining stars. Success leaves crumbs and
if you show a genuine interest, you will learn one or two vital

It might not always be easy to make a connection, so you need to be
smart. A gift often opens many doors, buy something like a cup of coffee
for him or her (be the person is the coffee type though) or bake them
their favorite cookie. If that doesn’t work, find out what they are
working on and see how you can be the “Mike Ross” to their “Harvey

Be indispensable but be professional 

If there’s anything I can guarantee that EVERY boss dislikes, it’s
having to do the work you should do. The fear of “turning assistance to
resistance” is the major reason many interns are not given
responsibilities beyond minor errands.

So, your job is being that intern that goes above and beyond in
executing tasks. Take initiatives, volunteer when the need arises, and
don’t leave at the end work of every work day until your boss tells you
to leave.

Depending on the company you work with, make time to connect with
people in other departments as well. However, do not take more
deliverables than you can finish on time. Learn to manage your
expectations because you might not always get credit for your work or
ideas. Above all, don’t be sloppy – present yourself in the best light.

Network but keep your eyes open 

Relationships are the currency of the future. No matter how good you
are, if no one can vouch for your competencies, you do not exist. Your
internship gives you the opportunity to connect with your workforce
field. These are people who can point you in the right direction or
serve as mentors as you progress in your career journey.

Nevertheless, don’t be carried away with networking and making connections that you forget your priority – your job.

More so, there is a fine line between networking and flirting. The
latter is dangerous for your career. It’s easy to create a reputation
for things that are not interesting so be sure to know when the
conversation is changing tones.

Finally, leverage platforms like LinkedIn to keep your connections together. If you want to go a step further, create a MailChimp account and add your contacts to a list. Think of it as your personal brand’s mailing list. 

Seek Feedback 

Here’s another thing most interns do not know: no one expects you to
know everything about the job or company. Consequently, one of the
smartest things you can do is to seek for and respond to feedback. Ask
for help or clarifications because asking is a sign of maturity. Many
interns have made terrible blunders because they were afraid or proud to
ask. Don’t let that be you!

Here's the right way to ask for feedback:

  • Listen: Don’t be in a hurry to explain or excuse
    yourself, listen to understand the speaker’s point of view. In the end,
    the reason for feedback is to make improvement so listen to understand
    not to have a ready answer/argument. 
  • Ask for clarifications: If the feedback is
    surprising, ask for clarifications. Perceptions are often deceiving so
    be sure to understand what is required. 
  • Observe: Observing your co-workers and being more
    self-conscious could also be a fantastic way of seeking feedback.
    Observe the reactions of the people you engage with and adjust yourself
    so. Furthermore, instead of always looking to your boss or supervisor
    for feedback, consider asking your colleagues. They are the ones that
    interact with you the most and will often give you some of the most
    insightful feedback. 
  • Act: Acting on the feedback ensures the loop is
    kept and helps you improve. In a situation where the feedback is
    difficult, take time to adjust and then go back to the speaker with your
    questions. In any case, be sure to express gratitude for the feedback
    no matter what it sounds like. 

Show gratitude 

The ‘attitude of gratitude’ is an asset; it’s the rub for making
lasting impressions. When you finish your internship, show appreciation
for the opportunity given you. If you do it right, you would have
shifted the odds in your favor towards a full-time job.

Make efforts to share specific skills you learned on the job and
thank everyone that helped you in the process. You could also add an
individualized touch by sending separate notes to each person that
assisted you instead of a general thank-you letter.

However, a thank-you letter is not a tool for ranting or sharing your
frustrations. If you have recommendations you wish to make, express
your views politely. More so, make sure that every information you share
is correct. Equally important, don’t ask for a job bluntly. Instead,
you could ask for is a LinkedIn recommendation.

Finally, include your contact details and any other useful
information. If you wrote a blog post about your experience (this is a
great marketing tool for the company), add a click-through link to the
post in your note.

Internships are great investments in your future. Nevertheless, to make the most returns on investments, you must 

1) have a clear and precise goal for the opportunity, 

2) learn vital job skills, 

3) go above and beyond in executing your tasks, 

4) create lasting connections, 

5) seek for and respond to feedback, and 

6) show appreciation for the opportunity. 

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