Finals have finally freed us from their grasp and it is time to start focusing on what comes after that last Spring final. No, not afternoons lounging by the pools or running around with high school friends you haven’t seen in centuries, I’m talking what happens when you go off to college and start fretting about what you’re going to do with your life once finals are no longer an issue. It’s time for internships.  Internships are our gateway to the real world, our chance to dip our feet into the big pond and test out the waters, but we don’t want to let that opportunity go to waste. Here are 8 ways to make the most of your internship.

1. Listen

It sounds basic, but it is amazing how far simply listening can get you. Listening will help you get to know your surroundings better, both the office as a whole and your coworkers and managers. Listening will also teach you how to do your job, and you won’t have to ask a thousand questions that have already been answered for you. There may be no such thing as a stupid question, but there is such thing as a question that was answered, but you just weren’t listening.

2. Make connections with the people who employ you

The goal of an internship is to learn what you want, and what you want might very well be a real job with that company. The best way to ensure an offer when your summer comes to a close is by connecting with your superiors and the people who oversaw your internship and know what good work you put in. Make sure they know that you are a hard-worker, that you would be a great fit for the company, and that you are interested. Give your superiors the respect they deserve, but don’t be standoffish. Be personable, and you just might be the person they hire.

3. Make connections with fellow interns

Whether you love or hate your internship, your boss, your summer housing, force yourself to connect with fellow interns. Maybe companies will have multiple summer interns, but do not view them as competition. You are both in the same boat, and tearing down another person in the office won’t make anyone want to hire you. Also, that intern connection could land you your next internship, first job, first apartment, et cetera. Consider it a summer (or semester) long networking opportunity.

4. Ask your boss questions

They are your boss for a reason. Clearly, they’ve done something right in their career to get where they are now. Use them as a resource! Ask them about their career path, their experiences with the company, and their experiences with other companies. Don’t waste your precious time with too much small talk when you could be learning from them, and building a stronger relationship. Bosses love to talk about how they got to where they are, and they want to help train the next generation to rise to those positions.

5. Have a goal for every week

Whether you’re a Hill intern answering phone calls and giving tours, a social media intern glued to the computer, or a journalism intern, your internship will benefit from weekly goals. These goals will give you structure for your week and allow you to track your progress and success at the end of your internship. Goals can be related to the tasks you are assigned, whether that be writing an article or getting a hundred new followers, give yourself a tangible goal. These goals can even be non-assigned task related but in line with your internship as a whole. Make goals of getting lunch with your boss once a week or learning a new skill or reading on the metro.

6. Take advantage of the office

Call me crazy, but I love offices. I love the warm smell of copied papers and the organization of paper clips and staples and folders galore. You should too! Take advantage of your office.  Use supplies from within the office to complete office tasks. Don’t feel the need to pitch in money from your own pocket to buy a nice binder for this presentation. There is probably one you can use somewhere in the office. This also applies for the employees, whether they are your boss or not. Don’t distract them from their work, but learn what they do, and if it interests you, ask questions! They are there for a reason, so take advantage.

7. Drink the free coffee

Starbucks is expensive, and we all know we’re not human until we’ve had our coffee in the morning. That is why the office coffee pot is your friend. No office is complete without it. Learn to work it, keep it full and brewing, and the office will be happy. Even if your internship doesn’t involve bringing coffee to your superiors, you can always bring coffee to yourself, and everything tastes better when it is free.

8. Optimize your lunch breaks

Even if your internship feels like it has been dragging on for months, it is still a precious amount of time and you don’t want to waste any of it. Save the day (and some time) but optimizing your lunch break. Ideally, you should be using your lunch breaks to network and connect with your fellow interns or employees or catch up on work, but it is okay to take your lunch breaks for you when necessary. Instead of having to leave the office early for a doctor’s appointment, try and fit it in your lunch break. Use your lunch break to make phone calls outside, run to the post office, etc. If it can only be done during business hours, optimize your lunch hour to be productive and also get the most hours out of your internships, especially if you’re paid hourly.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member