You’ve done the hard work of landing a great summer internship. But don’t think you can rest easy now.
You worked hard all semester finding and landing the perfect summer internship — researching, networking, applying and polishing up your resume. Now that summer is here, it’s time to dip your toes into the professional world (and hopefully a pool). After putting in the hours at the office this summer, you can make your internship work for you by gaining valuable contacts and a killer recommendation letter from your supervisor.
Follow these steps to make a great impression and turn your hard work into the best recommendation letter ever!
Research your employer
Making a good impression begins before you even step into the office. Christy Dunston, a career counselor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, encourages students to research the company they will be interning at so that they can be as prepared as possible on their first day.
“Look to see what new projects are taking place or if the company has been in the news, and research information about the industry to see what trends are taking place,” Dunston says.
Researching your company and industry is the best way to learn the lingo, and being able to “talk the talk” is a surefire way to get your employer’s attention.
“I use Twitter and LinkedIn a lot to see what is going on in my industry — higher education — that way I can talk shop with other professionals,” Dunston says. “If a student was talking with me and referenced an article … about higher education, I would be very impressed.”
Make your social media profiles professional
You landed a great internship — fantastic! But as with any job, getting hired is only half the battle. Don’t let your social media presence make a bad impression for you before you get the chance to make a great impression in person.
“It is important to monitor or censor your social media posts and pictures, even after you have landed the internship,” Dunston says.
According to Forbes, about two in five employers screen their candidates’ and employees’ social media profiles.
But it’s not just scandalous pictures that can get you into trouble. It’s also important to refrain from posting anything negative about your internship on social media, as companies sometimes monitor these posts as well.
“Some companies monitor social media sites to see when their name shows up for anything, good or bad, on the Internet,” Dunston says. “As an intern, if you wrote something bad about the company, you wouldn’t want it to get back to your supervisor.”
Whether your employer screens your social media presence or not, you should always think before you post.
You never know what your next employer will do, but if you monitor your posts, you can control what they see! As Dunston says, “it is best to think about anything you post on social media, because once it is online, you can’t take it back.”
Get there early
This one should be a no-brainer.
Being punctual, especially on your first day, is essential to making a good impression. Set a back-up alarm (or three) and give yourself enough time to maneuver through morning rush hour.
“I would suggest for an intern to arrive at least 10 to 15 minutes early,” Dunston says. “Arriving early allows you to have some buffer time if you get lost or miss a bus or anything that can happen unexpectedly.”
Additionally, it’s a good idea to maintain that level of punctuality throughout the summer. Don’t push the minutes a few weeks into your internship. Try to find a morning routine early on that gives you enough time to get ready, eat a good breakfast, commute safely and arrive on time.
Dress appropriately for the office
It can be hard to determine the level of professional dress at your internship when you haven’t actually been there yet. Do they expect a full-fledged pantsuit, or will a sundress and a blazer suffice? To avoid confusion and a potentially awkward situation on your first day, Dunston encourages interns to ask about the dress code before showing up for the job.
“That way, you will dress appropriately,” she says. “Different work environments have different dress codes, so it is always better to ask before you get there.”
Once you know what type of attire is expected, make sure to stick to that dress code!
As always, it’s important to look as appropriate and professional as possible on the job. To put together the perfect professional look, check out our internship-friendly wardrobe choices.
For more tips on what to do during and after your internship to make sure you get that awesome recommendation letter, be sure to check out the full article here.
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