I recently sat down with our Industry Relations intern at Visit Bucks County because she wanted to hear a little more about what I do. So, that’s how the conversation started, but as I was explaining my position, I unconsciously started adding some tips and tricks I learned along the way while I was still in school and interning for various companies. That conversation inspired this post and helped me to stop and think about some of the best tools in my tool belt that other young professionals may or may not be using.
1) Focus less on Instagram, Snapchat, and those other purely social mediums and focus more on LinkedIn and the professional side of social media! LinkedIn is an underrated tool in the young professionals’ tool belt. Many times you are forced to create an account for a class (like I was), but then you never update it or go on. LinkedIn is a great source for not only keeping up with industry trends and sharing professional accolades, but it is also a great way to research potential careers you want and network, as well as find jobs. Start looking at profiles of established professionals who are in positions that you see yourself holding in the future. What did they study in school? What experiences did that accept as they made their way to the position they currently hold? Don’t be scared to set a connection request either if you find someone you really want to speak with.
2) And that brings me to tip #2, set up informational calls/interviews or professional meet & greets. No matter the title, they’re all the same thing- they’re conversations with a professional that you set up with the intent on asking them about their career and the companies they’ve worked for. Remember, you’re not begging for a job during these- this is a time for research and networking! These conversations can be held in person, over the computer or on the phone so it’s an easy way to start talking with a company that could be based states away from where you’re currently located. These are also a great no pressure way of getting yourself in front of a person at a company that you’re interested in. One last thing, just because it isn’t a job interview doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still prepare for the meeting. You should still take the time to research the company and the person and formulate questions ahead of time. Take this seriously and maybe the person on the other end of the line could become a mentor or an instrumental part of reaching your dream job one day. You never know what could happen so make you’re prepared and you put your best foot forward.
3) Don’t be afraid to be a little pushy- just not in a negative way! What I mean is, if there is an area that of the organization that you want to learn more about or a project you want to be a part of, make sure you vocalize it. Unfortunately, may times, supervisors of internship programs are unable to dedicate enough development and one-on-one time with their interns because they are also performing their other job duties. All that means is that you need to take imitative as an intern and state what your interests are and ask to sit in meeting and talk to the people that are involved in the projects you want to learn more about. The worst your supervisor can say is no! Remember, just because the word “super” is in the word supervisor doesn’t make them a superhero that can read your mind. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! (Just make sure it doesn’t impede the duties you signed on to perform.)
“Remember, just because the word “super” is in the word supervisor doesn’t make them a superhero that can read your mind. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want!”
4) Try to experience everything you can! I understand how hard it can be to have an unpaid internship, classes, and another job- but don’t let that stop you from making the most of your internship experience. At the end of the day, despite the project you were given and the tasks you were assigned, it is up to you to dictate the level of involvement you had at the organization. When the place you’re working for is hosting events- go to them! When your supervisor invites you to accompany s/he to an educational lecture they’re attending on marketing- go with them! When the whole staff is attending a partner organization’s event after hours- go with them! You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn.
5) My final tip is to be present! Whether or not you see yourself working for that company in the future or whether or not there’s a potential job opening that you may be interested in, make sure you come to work prepared, professional, and present. Being present is more than just showing up on time and going through the motions. Being present is about taking in everything around, all the stimuli, processing it, and appropriately responding to it. Make the organization you’re interning for hate to let you go! Give them a reason to want to keep you or at least give you a glowing recommendation at the end of your internship. I can tell you from first-hand experience that this works. At the end of my marketing & communications internship with Visit Bucks County, the organization created a temporary assignment for me until they could open a full-time, salaried position that they thought I would be a good fit for because I showed them that I would be an asset to the team- and I did that while I was an intern. So I promise, it’s possible, you just have to put in the effort from the beginning!
Hopefully one, if not all of these tips help you make the most of your internship experiences. I’ve had several over the years and I’d be more than happy to talk to you about them, just leave me comment below!