One of my biggest pieces of advice is to network, network, network. Also, did I mention network?
I hope that one of the reasons that you chose a company is because of its people, as I spoke about in previous articles. But once you are in a company, for whatever the reasons may be, extending your influence through networking is so important. When getting an internship, you are not only getting your “foot in the door”, but you are also getting to know people who have the connections that you don’t!
Get to know everyone and step out of your comfort zone! The colleagues that surround you are experts in their field and there is so much to learn from them! Some ways to start these conversations is introducing yourself or even asking different people different questions.
While in an internship, you are not only learning the job, but you are also in the process of professional development. Being in a workplace environment is very different from being in a school setting. During your internship, my advice is to mimic your coworkers. How do they dress? When do they ask questions/when do they take notes? When are they’re breaks? What’s important to realize is professional competency is just as important as technical competency.
And remember if you decide to participate in any activities outside of work with co-workers realize that this can still be a minefield. Just because you’re outside the office and off the clock doesn’t mean it is like spending time with your personal friends.Think of it this way; would you do all of the things you do with your friends with your parents? Probably not. However, don’t be afraid to let down your guard a little just be self-aware and treat these occasions like you would a family dinner, have fun but be reserved.
So, start a conversation. Learn more about those around you and form those connections. Remember key components are not only the job but what your colleagues tell you about themselves and use that to form those relationships. Ask about their kids, their college career, or how they got to where they are today! The people that you meet during your internship are either potential colleagues or references for a full-time position.