If you’re reading this, you’ve landed an awesome internship for the summer. Congratulations! You’re probably excited (and a little nervous) and are wondering about internship etiquette, how to impress your supervisor, and generally how to get the most out of your experience. To help you out, we talked to a few professionals at Lincoln Financial Group, GlaxoSmithKline, Independence Blue Cross, and Campbell Soup Company who gave us great advice on how to be a star intern.
Jennifer Kegerise, the Head of University Recruiting and Pipeline Programs at Lincoln Financial Group, appreciates when her interns know the basics, especially Microsoft Office.
“We live in a world of Google and Mac, so students don’t always understand the world of Microsoft. All large Fortune 500 companies operate off of Microsoft. Understanding how to use Microsoft Office, Outlook, and Calendar is huge,” she said.
After you learn the fundamental tools, you can take on a larger role in the company. According to Grace Colman, the Recruitment Leader for Early Talent at GlaxoSmithKline, successful interns share their skills and ideas with their supervisors and colleagues.
“We love to see interns coming to us with innovative ideas. We are used to doing things a certain way in a certain organization. Oftentimes, we are so busy that we are not taking the time to think about new ways of doing things that can make it more effective.”
Colman emphasized the importance of checking in with your supervisor during the internship. In a check-in session, interns can either ask the supervisor to review their progress or let their supervisor know how they feel about the internship so far.
“To ask things like ‘How am I doing?’ and ‘Have I been meeting what you expect me to do?’ is important. At the same time, it’s also a way to let the managers know if you are completely bored out of your mind with the project that they have given you.”
If you are planning to tell your supervisor that you want to take your work in a different direction, Colman advised that you tell your supervisor constructively.
“Say ‘what you have been giving me has been challenging but I think I can take on more’ or ‘I would like to explore this area because I am very interested.’ Having those conversations is a way for the manager to engage and say ‘that’s great, we would love to give you more’ or change the course of the project.”
In addition, Lytanja Beulah-Jones, the University Relations Specialist at Independence Blue Cross, suggested meeting with supervisors in order to create achievable goals.
“The interns should set goals for the internship and share them with the supervisor to make sure they are SMART goals for the assignment (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely),” she explained.
Kegerise also advised that interns shy away from using social media (besides LinkedIn) to connect with their supervisor and colleagues.
“I would always caution individuals who link in with their non-work colleagues on Facebook. I’ve heard stories in the past where interns have connected with people on Facebook or even on something as simple as Twitter,” she said, “but then wrote comments and that was the end of their internship.”
Not sure how to create an outstanding LinkedIn page you can use to connect with work colleagues? We’ve got a great guide here.
Keeping in Touch
After the end of your internship, you should definitely continue to check in with your supervisor. However, there is an etiquette on how to maintain a professional relationship with your supervisor. Nicole Wormley, the Senior Manager of U.S. Talent Acquisition at Campbell Soup Company, gave tips on keeping in contact.
“The students, in my opinion, should always have the manager’s contact information,” Wormley advised. “They should absolutely have an active LinkedIn page, and they should link in with their supervisor. They should also connect with the organization’s LinkedIn Page. Send a note from time to time.”
Say roughly three months has passed and you want to reconnect with your supervisor but you’re not sure what to say. Wormley gave us some helpful conversation starters.
“Let your supervisor know how your semester is going. Say if there is anything that you learned during the course of your internship or co-op that has made your classroom experience more well-rounded or if you’ve been able to apply some of that learning to the classroom experience.”
These tips will ensure that you have a productive internship experience, both during your internship and afterward. Best of luck and enjoy your summer!