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How to Get The Most Out of Your Summer Internship

Unilever Is Hiring Interns on WayUp
Leo Thom
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Published on June 11, 2015

Congratulations on your summer internship! Getting paid to learn is an awesome gig. Pat yourself on the back.

But now that you’re here, what should you do to get the most of your limited time this summer?

Since you’re reading InternMatch, I’m going to guess that doing a good job is something you were planning on doing anyway.

It’s assumed you’ll show up and hustle, but there’s always more we can do as top performers.

Here are some tips to go beyond a job well done:

Connect with colleagues on LinkedIn
This tip is so simple and easy, yet many interns forget to add their co-workers on LinkedIn. For shame.

Even if you think the website is “for old people,” remember that you’ll be “old” one day too (and sooner than you think).

You will need professional contacts throughout your career for many reasons – not just to find a new job.

The best networks have a large number of quality professionals – so start early and be consistent. LinkedIn is by far the fastest way to save these professional contacts without much effort.

ACTION ITEM:
– Every time you meet a new colleague, add him or her on LinkedIn. Make this as normal as breathing. Your future self will thank you for it.

Read more LinkedIn tips in my guide on LinkedIn profile optimization.

Reach out to colleagues outside your team
While it’s tempting to keep your head down and be a rockstar for your team, branching out to other employees is another way to have a stand-out summer.

Just like the first tip with LinkedIn, this tip expands your professional network.

Why do I care so much about building a network of quality professionals?

In today’s job market, over 70 percent of jobs are found through networking.

Take advantage of being “the intern”, young and curious, and reach out to your company. Have informal lunch meetings so you don’t disrupt normal business hours. Learn more about the company in these meetings and see if your skills can be used on different teams.

There comes a point in most careers where your people skills matter more than your technical ability. Interpersonal skills are learned, not gifted by nature. Take this opportunity to practice your people skills in a low risk environment – you are “the intern” after all.

Reaching out early will give you the practice needed to be a great networker.

ACTION ITEM:
– Schedule one informal lunch meeting per week with an employee not on your team.

Don’t know how to start? Check out our email scripts on beginner networking over here.

Deliver hand-written ‘thank you’ cards
In a world of Tweet storms and disappearing Snapchats, having a permanent and emotional connection is a rare occasion.

Throwback to the days you had to write with a pen and paper. Take the time to thank your mentors and colleagues with a physical card.

The card is a physical reminder of your awesomeness that summer. Each time your manager glances at your card during a stressful work day, he or she will remember how you made their life easier.

This one’s simple, but also easy to over-do. A basic Hallmark card and a one paragraph thank you are enough.

ACTION ITEM:
– Deliver a hand-written card for each manager you reported to. Also consider cards for co-workers you worked with often.

Use these tips to expand your network, practice your people skills and leave a permanent connection. Who knows…you may find yourself with a full-time job offer after this Summer of hustling.

Let us know in the comments how everything goes!

Photo credit: Flazingo Photos

Leo Thom

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