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Here Are 21 Tips To Make Sure You Make The Most Out Of Your Internship Whether Or Not It’s Paid

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If you’ve landed your first internship, you are probably feeling a mix of emotions. If you’re lucky, this will be the first paying job in your industry that you’ve landed. If not, you may be working an unpaid internship, which can still pay off in connections and experience. Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of your internship.

1. Do Your Homework

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Chances are, you’ve probably already done some homework on your company just to land your internship.  However, before your first day, take a deep dive. Read news articles about your company. If you know who they are, add and check out your new boss on LinkedIn. Have the most information you can about the company’s business and culture.

2. Dress the Part

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The old adage says to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Don’t be shy about asking your contact (probably someone in HR) what the dress code of the office is, and follow it. Remember – just because everyone else can break the rules and wear jeans on a Tuesday doesn’t mean you should. Don’t overdo it either – the goal of choosing your outfits should generally be to blend in.

3. Make a Good First Impression

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When you first meet your new coworkers, be friendly and approachable. Shake hands. Use your manners that your mom no doubt taught you.

4. Show Up on Time

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This goes without saying, but as an intern, you should always be on time. If you have to be late, fess up honestly and professionally. Send your boss a polite, professional email with your estimated time of arrival. Don’t even think about saying that your grandma died, the cab crashed, or the bus was late. Apologize and be there as soon as possible.

5. Treat it Like a Real Job

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Even if you aren’t getting paid, you need to treat your internship like it’s your first real job. First of all, it is. Second of all, if you show great work ethic, creativity, skills, and the ability to work efficiently in a team, it may become your first real job. At a minimum, you’ll rack up lots of people who will be happy to give you a reference.

6. Clarify Your Responsibilities

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Meet with your boss early and often to discuss exactly what your job responsibilities are. You want to be productive and as helpful as possible, and clarifying your role and responsibilities will help you make sure you aren’t spending your days bored out of your mind, or over your head.

7. Listen, Listen Listen

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Take a cue from Lin Manuel Miranda and talk less, smile more. While you shouldn’t be afraid to speak up at the right time, internships are all about learning. Listen to your coworkers, and learn as much as you can.

8. Ask Good Questions

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Listening well pays off. If you are listening, you will be better able to ask thoughtful questions. Asking questions is a great time to get clarification, but also show that you have been listening and learning.

9. Follow Office Etiquette

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Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the way an office runs. Not sure who gets the front parking spots? Ask. Not sure if the donuts in the break room are fair game. Don’t be afraid to ask – you may save yourself some cringe-worthy embarrassing moments.

10. Be Easy To Work With

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Everyone gets it – work can suck sometimes, especially if you are at the bottom of the totem pole. However, if you are negative all the time, no one will want to work with you and your internship will likely be a dud. Try to be positive and helpful, and leave the personal drama at home.

11. Don’t be Afraid to Do a Little Dirty Work

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While hopefully, your internship doesn’t read like a script from “Horrible Bosses,” don’t be above fetching coffee or other things that may be outside of what you think you should be doing. However, if your bosses’ behavior crosses into harassment or abuse, speak to HR.

12. Proofread Your Work

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Nothing will make you want to stab yourself in the eye or bang your head against a desk than sending a poorly worded email to, say, the entire office. Be careful about hitting that “reply all” button, and read everything over once before you hit send. Don’t put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want the entire company (or the company’s clients) to read.

13. Ask for Feedback

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Schedule regular check-ins with your boss. Ask to adjust your responsibilities if you want to take on more work. Accept any criticism with grace, and work on a plan to improve.

14. Find a Mentor

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This can take time, but find someone who you can click with to be your mentor. Mentors are invaluable in their ability to steer you in the right direction and the beginning of your career and many will stay with you after your internship is over.

15. Ask for More Work

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If you aren’t busy enough, check in with your boss and ask for more work. Don’t be a huge pest to your coworkers, however. Check-in, but don’t be a nuisance. If your department doesn’t have anything for you at the moment, ask if you can shadow someone in another department. Knowing how all aspects of a company works is valuable.

16. Read Industry Publications

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Read trade magazines, blogs, and other publications. This will help you feel less clueless if you are included in meetings or asked to work on projects. Knowing industry-standard terms of art can help you get by, but don’t be afraid to ask what someone is or means if you don’t understand.

17. Attend Training Sessions

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Many companies offer free lectures, seminars, or lunchtime training sessions. Take advantage of every one of these you can. Not only will it help you get to know your current company, but it will also give you experience and knowledge you can add to your résumé.

18. Be Social

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It goes without saying that networking is one of the most critical parts of an internship. Getting to know people and making positive impressions leads to references and jobs. Make sure to attend office social events like happy hours, parties, and retreats if at all possible. Keep it professional though.

19. Stay Off Social Media

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Like it or not, there is a stereotype for millennials that they are glued to their phones. Defy the stereotype. Check your phone on breaks, but don’t be glued to your phone, even if your coworkers are. Stay focused and attentive to your job.

20.  Ask for References

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Before you leave your internship, capitalize on all your hard work by asking your boss and coworkers if you can use them as a reference, and what contact information is best. Consider asking one or two people for a letter of reference to add to your files.

21. Reflect on Your Experience

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This is an incredibly important part of your internship. If you found that you hated every moment of your internship, consider exploring a different type of job in the same field. Consider what things you did like, and didn’t and seek out opportunities that best fit your skills and passion.


READ: Listen Up College Kids, These Are The Things You Shouldn’t Ever Do

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College Is An Incredible Experience If You Do It Right. Here Are 21 Tips To Make The Most Of It

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College Is An Incredible Experience If You Do It Right. Here Are 21 Tips To Make The Most Of It

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Congrats! You made it to your freshman year of college. Now what? You may be away from home for the first time, free from your mama’s watchful eyes. Some students spend their college years locked away in the library or the door room, barely emerging for meals. Maybe you feel the pressure of being the first person in your family to go to college. Other students spend the entire time on the spectrum of slightly hungover to wasted. Neither one of those is going to be good for you, so here are a few tips to get you on the right path to an enjoyable and productive college career.

1. Go To Class

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Going to class is the number one thing you can do to make sure you pass your classes. This is what you’re paying for, so don’t skip. If you are in class religiously, you’ll get material that is not in the reading and your professors will get to know you better. Both can help if you run into trouble later in the semester.

2. Don’t Overschedule

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Create your first years’ schedule thoughtfully. It may seem like a good idea before you get to college to schedule morning classes. Don’t blame us if you end up regretting it. Especially for your first semester, don’t overload your schedule and think about whether you are really going to want to show up to that 7:30 a.m. advanced chemistry lab.

3. Attend An Activities Fair

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It can be tempting to hide in your room when you first arrive at school, but many colleges have an activity fair that allows campus groups to show you why they’re the greatest. Don’t skip out on these activities. They can help you find your niche, whether you’re into student government, a gamer girl, or want to try out some intramural sports.

4. Find Your Study Spot

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You have to find a spot where you don’t cringe every time it’s time to crack the books. While you can study in your dorm room, be sure to check out other spots like the library, quiet corners of the student union. If you’re like Rory Gilmore you might find a favorite tree outside. Find a spot that is comfortable and where you can concentrate.

5. Have Fun, But Don’t Document Everything

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If you have ever wanted to dye your hair purple and pierce your nose, now is the time to give it a try. Just keep in mind, that if you are going into an uber-professional field like law or medicine, you want to be careful about making changes to your appearance that can’t be covered up. It may suck, but there are still standards of professionalism to be followed, so maybe hold off on face tattoos until you make a solid career path decision. Also, have fun, but don’t do anything illegal that will end up on your permanent record (because that’s a real thing now). Be careful what you put on social media sites. Future employers may be watching.

6. Join An Intramural Sport Or Activity

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Even if sports makes you wince, there are tons of intramural activities you can try. Not into volleyball? There are intramural chess teams at some schools where the only muscle you exercise is your brain. Try to find something that works for you.

7. Don’t Be Afraid Of Getting Tutoring

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Many colleges offer free tutoring, and this is not something you should be afraid to take advantage of. Don’t struggle in a class when you have resources available to help you. Don’t wait until the last week before finals either. If you feel yourself falling behind, check out tutoring programs or talk to your professors for help.

8. Talk To Your Professors

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Get to know your professors, both in and out of class. Ask questions that are deeper than “Will that be on the exam?” Your professors can be some of your biggest advocates, and you want to stand out. Most professors are willing to go the extra mile to help students who show just a little bit of interest. Besides, when else are you going to be surrounded by such academic rockstars?

9. Keep The Papers You Write

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While it may be tempting to have a giant bonfire at the end of the semester and burn it all, hang on to those papers you worked so hard for. Some job applications may require a writing sample, and they can be a great reference for later classes if they are in your major.

10. Make A Plan To Get Your Credits 

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For someone who loves learning, browsing through available classes can make you feel like a kid in a candy store. However, it’s important to have a plan to make sure that you get all your credits so you can graduate on time. Make sure to use your adviser as a resource.

11. Fight Your Introvert Ways

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If you are an introvert, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all extroverts in class and in college life in general. Make a point to raise your hand and speak out. Talk to people at the gym and in the dining hall. You never know where your next new friend will come from.

12. Ditch The Freshman 15

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Chances are, you have access to the best gym and more free time than you ever will again in your life. Use this as an opportunity to make and reach your fitness goals.

13. Intern Aggressively

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Use your contacts on campus to help you score an internship (aren’t you glad you made friends with your professors?). This is the time to be aggressively pursuing relevant work experience in your chosen field. It’s better to have unpaid internships now than when you graduate and have to begin repaying student loans. Apply, apply, apply.

14. Keep Your Door Open

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When you are home in the dorms, keep your door open. You’ll be more likely to snag an invite or get drawn into some dorm room fun.

15. Take A Weird Class

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Use your elective credits to take a class that is totally different from your major or what you think you want to do. This will broaden your horizon, and you never know – you might find your passion where you least expect it.

16. Get Your Money’s Worth

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Make sure to explore what your campus has to offer you. Does your medical center offer free visits? Does the gym have free fitness classes? Are there mental health resources on campus? Take advantage of all the things those student activity fees paid for.

17. Consider Studying Abroad

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Explore study abroad programs. Even if you can’t afford to travel, there are many programs with scholarships and subsidies available.

18. Become Friends With The University Events Calendar

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College campuses always have something going on, whether it be performances, art exhibits, special speakers, or sporting events. Generally, these are free or greatly reduced for students. Pack in as many activities as you can to expand your horizons. There should never be an excuse to be bored.

19. Cheer On Your Team

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There is just something so electric about dressing up in your university colors and cheering your team to victory. The games usually lead to fun times with every united for one cause. You might even make a new friend or two.

20. Don’t Forget To Call Your Family

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They probably helped get you here. Make sure to call your family at least once a week. Trust us – they miss you and are worrying.

21.  Enjoy the Moment

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These are probably some of the best years of your life.  Explore, learn, and have fun!  Four years will go by really fast – make the most out of it!


READ: From Diapers To Dorms, I Worked Hard To Make Sure My Baby Sister Could Go To College

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