Let’s be honest, internships are somewhat advantageous for all parties, but unless you practice having full awareness during your experiential learning opportunity, most of that advantage will weigh heavily on the employer. I mean, they are getting free work done for their somewhat less prioritized projects (in most cases). However, that doesn’t mean you can turn the table and make it more beneficial for you as well. So how do you do that?
The best advice I can provide is to think in three forms when completing any tasks or projects at your internship.
First, think in terms of value for whatever you are doing and track that on a journal somewhere so you can later weave that into your resume when you update it with your new role. Anything you do is impacting the bottom-line. If they have you manage all inbound calls, instead of thinking you’re just handling communications, think in terms of how many calls on average you field and how many of those calls you actually provide a resolution for. Anything you do should be translated into a business quantifier – whether you are saving time, saving money, adding revenue, increasing client volume, etc. These are all bottom-line driven.
Secondly, think of the hard skills you’re learning whether it’s project management, cross-functional communications, technical writing, or even software like Salesforce or AS/400. Whatever the technical items you’re learning also need to be weaved into your resume since a lot of those keywords (or “buzzwords”) are utilized by recruiters to identify candidates that match your background.
Finally, track any relationships you’ve built so you can cultivate long-term relations and possibly leverage down the road for future full-time opportunities. Connect with them on LinkedIn, gather their email (personal email if possible in case they leave the company) and phone number. Ask them to be a reference and request that you keep in contact with them every so often to continue relations. It’s important because who you know still reigns as the top way to land a new role.
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