21 Mar 2016 16:27 IST

10 tips to be a successful intern

With the right attitude and a smart action plan, you could get ahead in your career quickly

It is common knowledge that internships can pave way for professional success if you play your cards right. The environment at the workplace can be very different from that of a grad school. While you may be confident about figuring out your way at the new place, learning a few quick tricks will definitely go a long way, and guarantee your success as a promising intern.

Here are 10 tips that will help you hit the right note at the beginning.

Acquaint yourself with colleagues

Make an effort to know everyone in your department, irrespective of its size. Talk to them about what they do, the highlights of their job, and the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis.

For all you know, their work might interest you at some point and open new doors. Besides, the more familiar you are with your colleagues, the higher your chances will be of getting a good recommendation from peers at a later stage.

Observe and learn

The best way to fit into corporate culture is to learn by observing. What time do the employees log in? How long do they take their tea breaks? How and where do they lunch? Pay attention to the culture of the organisation and ask your senior colleagues for guidance. Read up on all company policies, procedures, and organisational material to understand how things work.

Be approachable

When approached with assignments, take on work without complaint. Smile at your colleagues every now and then, and exhibit a positive, friendly demeanour. While it’s good to chat with your colleagues, avoid gossiping, complaining and discussing your personal life.

Set goals

It is never a bad idea to have a conversation with your supervisors and understand their expectations from you. What are your daily and weekly deliverables? Ask your supervisor for timely feedback so that you know you are progressing in the right direction. Also, let them know where your interests lie and find out if you can be given an opportunity to work in those areas.

Be professional

Update yourself on the best ways to present yourself well at the workplace. How to dress appropriately for office, how to get your email etiquette right quickly, are some of the points you should look at. Inform your colleagues if you are late or can’t make it to office for some reason. If you have trouble handling a certain issue, seek the advice of senior colleagues or a mentor. Most importantly, remember to always follow basic courtesy.

Manage your time well

Make it a point to finish your assignments on time. Be proactive and ask your supervisor for the next task if you’ve completed the work that was assigned to you. Don’t hold yourself back from letting your supervisor know if a particular task is stressing you out.

Stay occupied

If you have less on your plate one day, try and help a team member with their work, after informing your supervisor of the same. If the team is witnessing a lull in work, use the free time to brainstorm creative ideas that may help your company’s business. Don’t hesitate to express your ideas if you think your recommendations could change things for the better.

Take notes

Maintain a record of all your tasks and deadlines on an excel sheet. Set reminders for meetings to be attended and calls to be made or taken. Ensure that your workspace and your desktop are clutter free. Observe strict adherence to company policy in terms of keeping records.

Communicate effectively

Be careful about your choice of words at all times, whether written or verbal. Ensure that you proofread all your written communication before hitting the ‘send’ button. While it is important that you use respectful, professional language, make sure you don’t come across as patronizing.

Ask for feedback

If there is no sign of a formal review, ask your supervisor for feedback on your work. This will help you work on your weak areas and learn better on the job. Introspect on the new skills you gained during the internship and present them using the right keywords on your resume and LinkedIn profile. You could also discuss your career plans with a consultant based on the new experience acquired.

With the right attitude and a smart action plan, you could get ahead in your career quickly. All you need to do is take the first step today.