Whether you’re sitting at an office this summer raking in money or just using it as an unpaid resume builder, you should still give the internship your best effort. There are bosses out there who are scary and think they’re better than you, and there are also cool bosses who make it a point to mentor you over the summer. However, the most important thing to keep in mind while you’re slaving away this summer, and potentially working for free, is that the hard work you put in now will be extremely beneficial later on. Unpaid internships, while painful sometimes, are one of the BEST ways to network. You have an insider pass to the potential job sector you’d like to pursue, access to great references, and if you play your cards right the internship might lead to full-time work. Listed below are some tips on how to take control and make yourself stand out.
Dress to impress.
Although dress codes can vary widely depending on the type of work you’re doing, it is important to go by your office standards. Dressing sloppy sends a bad impression to your boss and co-workers and can make you look young and inexperienced. Make sure that you’re polished every morning before heading to work and it will send a positive message to your boss that you’ve got it together.
Take on the tasks no one else wants.
Of course standing in the copy or filing room for hours is excruciatingly boring, but the more tedious tasks you do for people, the more they will appreciate you. This will show your employer that you’re willing to work hard no matter what the task is. Also, they will be much more likely to reward you with other perks later on if you show that you’re committed to doing even the most annoying tasks.
Don’t live your life by the minute.
Arriving to work a few minutes before your boss will not only impress him/her, but they’ll love being able to use your help right away. Instead of bolting the minute after your day is over, make sure you stay a little bit longer and ask if your boss needs anything else. Staying longer to finish something up that day will be noticed and appreciated, even if it’s not vocalized.
Learn to be an efficient multi-tasker.
Everyone gets nervous about producing quality work when they’re assigned a project. Take time to get directions from your boss on what is expected, and then fly solo. Make sure to dig in and get the assignment done as fast and efficiently as you can. It is important to finish a job correctly, but it is also important to work quickly. Interns can be replaced, and working too slowly could make your boss unhappy.
Smile and be nice.
Working as an unpaid, or even paid, intern puts you at the bottom of the work ladder. Although most people will treat you kindly, there will be some co-workers who treat you like you’re worth nothing. However, you should keep in mind that even the people who look down on you have friends and family, and could be potential contacts later on down the road. Just smile, hold your tongue, and be nice to everyone.
Don’t get caught web-surfing.
Although it can be tempting to sit and stalk people on social media sites, you should make sure that you don’t do it often. If your boss walks in and sees you it will seem like you’re majorly slacking off, even if you were just taking a short break. Speak up and ask for more work if you’re bored, or try to think of other ways you can help.