So you’ve managed to secure yourself a great graduate internship, but how do you know if you’re really making the most of it? You might have just a few weeks to impress your boss, network as much as humanly possible and secure that all important reference at the end, so it’s important to set yourself goals. But don’t worry, tick off all the tasks on our graduate internship bucket list and you’re guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.
Find yourself a mentor
No Fairy Godmentor is going to come along and bibbidi-bobbidi-boo you to success, but mentors are a really useful way of gaining honest advice and feedback. A mentor can introduce you to their connections and suggest job vacancies they think you’ll be suitable for, so try and find someone you get on well with and see if they’ll take you under their wing. Don’t forget to get their contact details before you leave.
Take a colleague to lunch
I know what you’re thinking. Trying to network with a mouth full of food in the middle of a noisy restaurant is not an attractive prospect. But asking a colleague or your boss to lunch is the best way to really get to know them and learn from their experience.
It may be tempting to sneak off and have a quiet hour to yourself, but see your lunch break as a chance to find out everything you really want to know from the people you admire. It’s often hard to find the time to ask questions about how someone got to the position they’re in, or any tips they might have for those starting out. So ask them if they want to grab a coffee, and let the conversation flow.
Keep an intern diary
You probably haven’t kept a diary since your angsty teenage years, but don’t forget to keep track of what you’re learning on your graduate internship. This will help you to talk about your internship in future job interviews and show you didn’t just waste a few weeks sat in a cubicle typing away. If social media figures have increased under your guidance make a note of it. If your boss praises you for your work, make a note of that too
Make it through ‘after work drinks’
At university, a few casual drinks in the evening would lead to six pints, three jaeger bombs, a spontaneous house party and a stonking hangover the next day. But the world of professional working life is different.
If you don’t want to spend the rest of your graduate internship hiding your head in shame while your colleagues pass round a video of you attempting the worm in the middle of a cocktail bar, pace yourself. Letting your hair down at a social event and showing a different side of yourself is an important part of making friendships that will last, but don’t let it get out of hand.
Network with people from other companies
Meeting and networking with your colleagues is easy, but taking the time to meet people from other companies is harder. However, now that you’re part of the ‘inner circle’ through your internship, use the opportunity to meet people from a variety of different companies. Whether this is at meetings, press conferences, networking sessions or other events, it’s a great chance to meet like-minded people in the industry and scout out potential job opportunities.
It might go against your instincts, but don’t be afraid to mess up. I mean, try not to bankrupt the company or get yourself sacked, but slipping up and doing things wrong every now and then is a really important part of the learning process.
If you make a mistake, just take a step back and think about what you’ve learned and how you can make sure it doesn’t happen again. Your colleagues will appreciate that you’re new and still learning the ropes, and will be more than happy to help you improve.
Leave your mark
Try and contribute at least one significant thing to the company before you leave;. This will impress your colleagues and help them to remember you. So many interns will just sit around waiting to be told what to do, so if you work proactively and bring ideas to the table, you’re bound to leave a good impression.
Don’t set the bar too high though. It’s not your job to overhaul the company’s structure, but see if you can creatively change the way they write the weekly newsletter or post on social media.
Nail the thank you gift
Flowers? Card? Chocolate? Finding the perfect leaving present can be difficult. You want to show you’re grateful for all their help and support, but you don’t want to be too soppy about it. Stick to a card with a strong, meaningful message and maybe some chocolates or cake that can be passed around before you leave. If the sentiment is genuine, your colleagues will notice, so don’t overthink it.
Get yourself a stand out reference
It isn’t all ‘me me me’, but don’t forget to ask for a reference when you leave. This will help you when applying for your next job, and if you’ve left a good impression, your boss will probably be more than happy to help.
Try and sort it before you leave even if you don’t have another job or interview lined up right away. Their memory of you will still be fresh and they’ll be able to write about you easier. You don’t want to leave them racking their brains six months down the line.
It’s not an easy task, but graduate internships are a fantastic opportunity to get yourself on the job market, so it’s important to do as much as you can in the brief time that you have with the company. If you have fun and get stuck in, your internship will take you places.
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