My semester in New York City and internship at Cosmopolitan.com have come to an end. I have learned countless tips about how to make the most of your internship from my first-hand experiences. When you leave your internship, you always want to be known as the intern who killed it. So, here’s some tips that helped me succeed at Cosmopolitan.com.
1. Bring a notepad with you every day. Some companies may give you a notebook, but some may not. Regardless, it’s best to be on the safe side and bring one on your first day. You’re going to get a bunch of assignments, and how else are you supposed to remember them without writing them down? Usually, someone will come up to you in a rush, tell you what they need, and hurry off back to work. Instead of asking someone over and over what exactly he wants, write it down the first time he tells you. It will make your life and his life that much easier. Seriously.
2. Dress better than your boss. People say this all the time, but it’s so true. Dress codes vary from company to company and industry to industry. But one piece of advice that’s constant? See what your boss wears, and dress better. You don’t want to be known as the intern that dresses like a slob. But you also don’t want to be known as the intern that dresses too conservatively. Find the balance between the two.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When you come into an internship, you’re not going to know everything. And you’re not expected to! People would much rather you ask them a question than do something completely wrong. Your direct supervisor will most likely always be there to answer your questions, so take advantage of that. Run things by him or her before going to a senior staff member.
4. You’re going to make some mistakes. And it’s going to be okay. Maybe you sent an email with a glaring typo. Maybe you deleted an important document. Maybe you messed up an Excel spreadsheet. Whatever it is, always remember, in the end it will be okay. The best thing to do when you mess up? Immediately tell your boss and apologize.
5. No matter what you’re doing, always show enthusiasm. Sometimes at your internship, you’re going to be given the coolest, most amazing assignment ever. And some days, you might have to help with the grunt work. Even if you’re doing something like reading Facebook comments or monitoring Twitter activity, always smile and show your excited about your work. Yeah, it might not be as glamorous as what another intern is getting to do, but those “boring” tasks are just as vital to the company. And if enthusiasm and passion oozes from you, people will notice. With a good work ethic and positive attitude, you’re sure to get more responsibility soon.
6. Try to get to know as many people at your company as you can. Networking is so important when it comes to finding a job after graduation. While you’re at your internship, you have the opportunity to get to know so many accomplished people in your industry. Why wouldn’t you want to talk to them?! Ask people out to coffee for 15 minutes to chat about their career. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and no one likes to say no to an intern. And yes, it’s even okay to talk one-on-one with the big boss at your company. I’ve admired Amy Odell, editor of Cosmopolitan.com, since she took over the site last year. I knew if I didn’t at least ask her to talk, I would completely regret it at the end of my internship. I asked her to coffee, she said yes, and I had the chance to get advice from one of my biggest role models. Don’t ever let an amazing opportunity like that pass you by.
7. Do whatever you can to go above and beyond. How? Maybe that means staying late at work one night to help finish a project. Maybe that means pitching seven awesome story ideas instead of five. Maybe that means emailing your boss an idea on your day off. Whatever it is, little actions like that will make you stand out from the rest of the crowd.
8. Work well with your co-interns. You may become best friends with some of your fellow interns, and you may totally despise others. Don’t ever let your negative feelings toward other interns show in the office. There’s bound to be some competition between all of you, but keep it friendly. You do not want to be that bitchy intern that all the other interns hate. People in the office pick up on those things, and will not like the intern the other interns hate. In the end, your co-interns could potentially be your future co-workers. Stay on good terms with them, because one day, they could help you land a new job!
9. At the end of your internship, write thank you notes. To everyone. This is such a small gesture, but it goes so far. Your thank you notes don’t have to be long, but just enough to display your gratitude for the experience you had. Some interns might just write a thank you note to his or her direct supervisor, but you will really stand out if you write one to every person you worked with. Even if you didn’t get to know someone very well, or only worked with someone once, you will be remembered for writing them a note. You want people to think about you after your internship ends, and leaving thoughtful notes is a great way to make sure you’re remembered.