With summer internships and jobs nearly here, the Peer Career Advisors from the CCI want to do more than just help students find summer opportunities. After committing to an internship, the time to shine is still ahead. We want all students to have the best opportunity to succeed to the best of their ability in their internships this summer, so we compiled a list of 10 things that can help you through your summer experience. Here are some tips from the senior PCAs Mia Grayson, Hannah McKenzie, Ivy Yang, and Clayton Read.
1. Develop New Skills
Starting a new internship will always bring about a new set of knowledge and skills that you didn’t previously have. Many times, it’s the challenging aspects of our internship that teach us the most and make us more prepared for future endeavors. Take advantage of the new problem-solving skills that you’ll need to complete tasks remotely. Perfect how you present yourself in a virtual setting. Try your best to work on your interpersonal skills even through a screen.
2. Stay Professional
Though your internship may be virtual, that doesn’t mean you should take it any less seriously than an in-person opportunity. Even if “showing up” to work each day means walking only a few steps to your desk area, make sure your space is organized and mature for those inevitable Zoom meetings. This might involve making your bed (if you’re working from a bedroom) or temporarily removing those distracting posters from the wall. In addition, you should dress for work each day as if you’re going into the office. You will impress colleagues with this level of professionalism. These measures also show that you’re not taking the opportunity for granted—that you’re fully invested in your work and ready to succeed in any environment.
3. Be Positive and Stay Open-Minded
This summer will not be what anyone thought it was going to be, and internships are sometimes different from what we expected even when everything goes as planned. So, it’s important to think positively and stay open-minded. Approach every task you’re given as an opportunity to learn something new or to challenge yourself. Being an adaptable and cheerful colleague will make you a really valuable employee. Plus, staying positive will make your days more enjoyable and will help you make the most of this experience.
4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Especially with most internships being virtual, this point becomes even more important for this summer. When you are working for the first time in a professional environment, almost everything is going to seem foreign to you. One of the things that you have to get good at is communicating – communicating when you need help, when you finish your work, when you have extra time to help, etc. Overcommunicating early keeps you and your team on the same page and shows them that they can trust you to be accountable and responsible for your work. For this summer, this will likely be even more important since things will be remote. Being prompt and timely about sending and receiving emails will be key.
5. Always Triple-Check Your Work
If you will be working in a busy environment and you are working a lot, chances are you will have a lot of deadlines you need to meet. Just because it is fast paced though does not mean you should not look over your finished product to check for errors. Be sure to triple check your work before turning it in. Mistakes are inevitable, and even more so in an internship, but taking the time to look over your work for mistakes will help you find errors and, in turn, build trust from your team. It’s a good idea to even have someone else look at your work if you have time. This goes for emails you will be sending too.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
When you get to a portion of work that you cannot get past, give it a few tries, perhaps different ways and with some creative thinking. If you still are not able to move through the work, that is a good time to ask for help. The internship is an experience for you to do a lot of self-learning along with instruction, so if you cannot find a solution after a few tries, that is the time to ask for guidance.
7. Be Proactive
Once you finish a task and you have nothing to left to do, it becomes a great time to ask how you can help a coworker with their work. This is a way to build trust and appreciation among you and your coworkers. If there is something that you can anticipate needing to get done, this is also a great time to get started on things that will come up in the future.
8. Get Creative
If you get into a situation where you are stuck with work, try some things to get creative with it. Conversely, if you have mastered a task and you see ways that you could be more efficient in the future, that is a good time to become inventive and experiment with what works for you. Bringing your perspective to the workplace is one of the reasons that you were hired for your internship, so show your creativity where you can.
The work is important but perhaps just as important is getting to know the other people you are working with. If you have the opportunity to work in an office this summer, take time either at lunch or on coffee breaks to learn more about the people you are working with. You never know how you might become inspired through their experiences. Also, they will be able to provide you with great advice for your internship. If you will be virtual this summer, you could think about learning about your coworkers via a phone call or Zoom. Don’t be afraid to ask for some of their time.
10. Work-Life Balance
Whether you are working from home this summer or are in an office, be sure to take time for yourself. Exercise, keeping in touch with friends, and discovering local activities are all great ways to balance your work for the summer. Full workdays are exhausting so finding the time for yourself during the day is super important.
Take these tips to heart. Get ready to learn. Work hard and exceed expectations. You will be sure to thrive in your summer internship!
Clayton Read, author of this article, graduated in the Class of 2020 majoring in International Politics and Economics. He spent his junior fall in Madrid studying Spanish. At Middlebury, he was a four-year member of the Men’s Lacrosse team. After graduation, he will be starting work with Morgan Stanley in New York. Clayton enjoys skiing, reading, and travel.