By: Jennie Barr

Internships have become a requirement for college students, especially in the communications and marketing field. Whether you are a freshman or recent college graduate, the time you have during your internship will be a first-hand experience into the everyday life of your future career path. Although, each agency or company has a different culture or atmosphere, keep in mind that everyone also has their own style and methods of working. An internship isn’t just a college credit or a resume builder; it’s an opportunity for you to impress your employer, allowing you to add to your network of professionals or maybe even to land a position with the company now or in the future.

Here are a few pieces of advice to maximize your internship experience:

First things first, learn the company’s policies, procedures, mission statement and history before your first day. Heck! Learn this information before your interview. If you don’t understand the policies or procedures before interviewing, then ask questions. Throughout your internship, you’ll gain knowledge of the office attire, lunch break schedules, phone or email etiquette and other protocols that will help you be more comfortable and start you off on the right path to success during your internship experience.

Some companies will give you an overview or syllabus of objectives that you will accomplish throughout your internship, which can be utilized as a guideline or outlook to the internship program. However, as an intern, it’s understandable to want to be involved in the more glamourous tasks, but there is never a guarantee, so don’t get disappointed if you don’t have time for everything you want to learn (that’s why you’ll have multiple internships throughout your college career). Take each day as it comes, and focus on the task at hand; don’t focus all of your energy on making plans or stressing about the future.

In order to maximize your internship and fully understand all of the material thrown your way, don’t hesitate to ask questions as often as possible. This allows your employers to know that you are engaged and trying to comprehend the information, so you can provide exceptional work. Be sure to triple check all projects before turning them in to your supervisor, and always ask for feedback. Utilize all projects and meetings as a way to receive advice and focus on areas of improvement for future projects. Also, don’t hesitate to ask other professionals, outside of your internship supervisor, questions and pieces of advice. An internship gives you the opportunity to be a sponge and absorb information on a variety of professional skills and aspects in your field.

 “Write down your goals, make plans to achieve them and work on your plans every single day.”

 – Brian Tracy

As you embark on this new journey of working in the field, identify and set short- and long-term goals that you hope to accomplish.  In addition to setting your goals, focus on meeting your goals by learning from new projects that come your way and building connections. The professionals that you will encounter have a high level of knowledge in the field and have resources and tools to help you. Therefore, return the favor; as an intern, they are seeking help from you. Dive in and show enthusiasm for every project that you are assigned to. Demonstrating team work and enthusiasm will increase your recognition within the company. More importantly, teamwork is more than showing enthusiasm and dedication, it also means putting your best work forward.

Above all else, have fun during your internship. Go on informational interviews, coffee runs and company outings as often as possible. Simple conversations and activities will allow many more opportunities for your future development and allow you to create a personal connection with the professionals at your internship.

What has your internship provided for you that has helped maximize your experience?