From Keira Grant, Say Yes Buffalo
College students spend hours upon hours in classes studying and then even more time practicing their interview skills to attain an internship that will provide the real life experience needed to advance their career.
Internships - and multiple of them throughout a collegiate career - are critical to future success. Internships are a fantastic way for students to gain that real world experience, make more informed decisions on what they love to do (and definitely don't want to do), and create pathways for future employment post-graduation. We at Say Yes Buffalo have some helpful tips below to ensure you have the most successful internship experience possible.
Know that an internship is a great learning opportunity
Before you walk into the first day of your internship, keep in mind that it is a way to see if you like a specific field and is a great learning opportunity. Be open to trying new tasks and projects, and be open to every learning experience you’re provided with – every task you’re given will be something new for you to try and learn, and you may end up enjoying it.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout your internship. Sometimes students fear that they will sound inexperienced if they ask questions, but don’t worry. Employers recognize that this may be your first work experience, and they’re there to foster your growth and provide you with learning opportunities, so don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions if you would like to reinforce any assigned tasks.
Set goals for yourself
As you begin interning, set goals for yourself with your supervisor, including your goals within the company and your long-term professional goals. If there are specific tasks you would like to accomplish, ask for those opportunities. If you’re enjoying your internship and would like to continue working with the company, let your supervisor know. If your supervisor knows your goals, he or she can introduce you to others within the company, find more opportunities for you, and will help position you to achieve your goals.
Document your journey
Leverage your internship to build your professional brand. Add any documents you’ve created or projects you’ve completed to your portfolio. Also, ensure you add your experience to your resume, and discuss your experiences on LinkedIn. This will help other people in your industry get to know you, and think about you for future opportunities. Also, ask for letters of recommendation from your supervisor and others you’ve worked closely with.
Network with the best of them
Networking is an incredibly important skill that professionals use throughout their careers. Begin building strong relationships with your supervisor, colleagues, and other interns at your company. These relationships you build can expand the groups of people you associate with, and help meet even more people who can provide resources to help you develop personally and professionally. After your internship ends, stay connected with your supervisor and colleagues that you’ve met through email, LinkedIn, or you can even meet for coffee. Business professionals want to help in your journey, and will be more than willing to answer any questions you have.
Be your authentic self
This tip may be the most important. Being an intern helps you develop your own personal habits at work. Your internship employer selected you as their intern for your work potential but also for your personality – and it goes both ways. Being their intern is just as much about figuring out if you like working for that employer, while they see if you’re a good fit for the company, too. Through these explorations, you can see if the work you’re doing can turn into a full-time job with the company. If it doesn’t turn into a full-time job, you know you put your best effort in, and now you’re still headed in the direction of knowing your goals better.
We encourage you to follow these tips, and we look forward to hearing about your experiences, and seeing you enjoy your new internship! For more advice or information, we encourage you to reach out to us at .Say Yes Buffalo.
In addition to these tips, Be in Buffalo invites you to join them at their College Carnival on September 28 at Seneca One. At this event, you can ask potential employers about their internship opportunities, and start seeing if you’re interested in the work they can provide for you.
Keira Grant serves as the Internship and Career Pathways Program Supervisor at Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship, Inc. In her current role she has the pleasure of working with collegiate Say Yes scholars helping them to gain internships, excel in the interview process and curating professional developments sessions. Her favorite part of her job is working with the diverse population of students and learning from them as they begin to navigate the professional world.