After weeks of pursuing various contacts, sending out polished cover letters and resumes, and juggling multiple interviews, you’ve finally found yourself the perfect summer internship. Needless to say, you’re excited about the upcoming opportunity, and can’t wait to get a glimpse of the ‘real world’. Plus, the difficult part is over, right? Surely the actual internship won’t be as difficult as getting the HR department of your dream company to open your emails, right? Well, as tough as it might be to bag an ideal internship, the main part of the experience can be slightly challenging too, especially if it’s your first internship! That’s where this guide comes in! Whether you’re taking up a marketing internship or a tech based one, these are some pointers that should help across most departments and industries!
Follow industry related news
Chances are, you already keep an eye out for the important pieces of news around the field you’re planning to intern in. If not, take a look at some of the sites mentioned below:
Interning as an Editorial intern or at a public policy based firm? You may want to check out Kafila.
Working as a tech intern? Say hello to TechCrunch and The Next Web.
Interning at a startup? Head over to YourStory and Trak.in.
Working in the marketing department? Mashable and Mad Over Marketing might interest you. Also, follow Seth Godin’s blog; just do it.
Reading up on industry related news will help you strike up conversations with your peers and seniors, (and participate in them, too!) They’ll also give you a better idea of the issues relevant to the company you’re interning at. You might pick up some ideas and tips while you’re at it, too!
It is of course, imperative to follow the social media profiles of the company you’re about to join.
Make use of LinkedIn (Yes, the site you’ve been avoiding all this while)
Now, most of us made a LinkedIn profile very enthusiastically in our first semester in college, and haven’t logged in since. It’s time to search through your inbox for your LinkedIn password, because this site can help you out immensely (if you know how to make use of it, that is!). Take a look at a few ways of using LinkedIn to prepare yourself for your internship:
- You probably know who you’re going to be working under this summer. It’s a good idea to look him/her up on LinkedIn to make a note of their career trajectory. This will help you to gather a few conversation topics and have a few questions about their work experience and educational background in place.
- Using the ‘People Also Viewed’ section on the right side of the profile, you could check out the profiles of other people who work at the department. You might not be working under them, but you’ll probably see them around, and hence taking a lot at their profiles isn’t a bad idea at all.
- By searching for people who have already interned in the department or company you’re joining this summer, you could connect with a few of them and talk to them about their experience. They might have some handy ‘been there, served coffee’ (just kidding!), tips to give you. Their profiles might also give you ideas for places you could intern next year or during the winter break. Early bird and all that jazz!
Make sure you ask the HR these questions before hand
Before your internship actually starts, it’s important to clear out a few details with the HR department of the company. If you’re working with a small company or start up, they might not have a segregated HR department, in which case, you could talk to the person who handled your application and took your interview. Make a list of questions in advance, so you don’t have to keep sending out emails when you realise that you forgot to ask whether Saturdays are working! It’s important to know your working hours, number of working days in a week, dress code (especially important for larger companies), who you’ll be reporting to on your first day and so on. It might also be a good idea to approach the matter of an internship stipend (tactfully, of course!), just so you’re clear and aren’t left disappointed when you get to know, at the end of your internship, that a certificate and ‘experience’ is all you’ll be getting!
Brush up on your skills
You could use the time between your last exam and the first day of your internship to brush up on a few skills that are bound to come in handy during your internship. Some common tools include Microsoft Excel (yes, you mentioned that in your resume, but do you actually know how to make Pivot Tables?), knowing your way around content creation platforms like WordPress, social media and analytics tools and so on. You’ll find tons of tutorials on Youtube for any tool or platform you may need to use during your internship, so get going!
Be prepared to learn, unlearn and make the most of the experience
This is perhaps the most important step. You might have heard tales of evil bosses and ‘useless’ internships from your seniors, while also coming across those who gushed about how amazing their internships turned out to be. At the end of the day, everyone has varying experiences, and it’s important to take the summer as it comes. You might be saddled with dull work on some days, and be given exciting brainstorming projects on other days; it’s all a part of the experience. Always keep in mind that the main thing you’ll be talking away from the internship is probably the people you’ll meet and interact with. So don’t forget to give your best smile, mingle and learn from others!
Still looking for your dream internship? Take a look at our guide to secure internships this summer!
Image courtesy: troll.me, tumblr.com, theeye.org