For current college students, April is the month that will shape summer plans. The importance of internships and work experience for your career is no secret to most university students, yet getting the internship is only the first step.

A summer internship is so much more than a step in the door to a company that will hopefully give you a full-time job at the end of your 10 to 12 weeks there. It is an opportunity for students to discover what industries interest them, whether their degree program is really the direction they want to go, and it is a chance to understand what it is they look for in a company. As the current marketing and content generation intern for the Devon International Group Marketing Department, I’ve learned invaluable life skills throughout my last four months with DIG, and I want to pass them along to my peers wherever they may be this summer.

Here are some fail-proof tips from one intern to another that I have discovered throughout my numerous internships that will help enhance your internship experience.

1.       If you don’t act like an intern, they won’t treat you like one.

This is the best piece of advice I received when I began my summer internship at a large corporate financial services company, and it is something I have brought with me to Devon International Group. As an intern, you will not be expected to know everything, but you will be expected to engage and bring something new to the table. Your ideas will have more merit if you have a professional and confident demeanor. It is important to have confidence in your ideas, and to engage in meetings and conversations to offer insight that perhaps hadn’t been considered before.

2.       Questions Questions Questions

Your company and manager understand that this might be your first ever real work experience, and while you’re not expected to already be an expert in your field, you are expected to ask questions to help clarify anything you might not understand at first. This is the best way to show managers that you are engaged and want to be there! It will also help you understand the role that you have in the company, engage with other employees, and create an open line of communication between you and your reporting manager.

3.       Decorate your cube

Even if you are only at an internship for 10 weeks during the summer, decorating your workspace is one of the best ways to transition into working life, and it also helps increase socialization and networking amongst employees. Personal items can help you find common interests with your coworkers and other interns. It is also scientifically proven to help increase your productivity and creativity in the work place.

4.       To do lists/note taking

From the moment you enter into the working world, a legal pad or notebook will be your best and most trusted friend and ally. It is mentally impossible to remember every little task that is assigned to you or every idea that you need to further research for the next meeting. Notes and to-do lists will help you remember all of these things! Don’t resist, just do it

5.       Be social (lunches, happy hours, etc)

An internship is so much more than getting work experience. It is getting a taste of a whole new lifestyle, and that is an experience that should be shared with others, both fellow interns and co-workers alike. If you integrate yourself in the company social scene, you will ultimately have an overall better experience at the company, but you will also be able to network with people that may become your future co-workers or may be a good resource down the line. No matter what, eating lunch or attending happy hours with co-workers will make your entire experience infinitely better.

Final Words

Internships are one of the best things that a college student can do during and even after their degree program. It offers both career and life experiences, and a great opportunity to make both great business and personal friendships. It is important to remember that internships are just extended interviews for both you and for your employer to see if you are a good fit for each other.

You will get out only as much as you put in, so get out there, ask questions, and make it a summer to remember!

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