You’ve just begun to settle into the routine of your internship. But even if the sleep and coffee deprivation is beginning to wear you down, don’t despair! There’s a good chance that your internship is going better than you think it is, especially if you’ve been proactive in the workplace. Here are four signs that you’re succeeding at your internship.
1. You fit into the company (culture)
Internships for college students are more competitive than ever today. Sometimes, you don’t end up being accepted into your first choice internship–maybe not even your second or third choice. Even if you’ve landed your dream internship, it might end up being a lot more boring that you thought it would be. Coffee runs and making copies aren’t exactly how you imagined spending your time. So if you’ve managed to love your internship so far, it’s a good sign that it’s going well!
Just as important as the company’s field is how the company goes about achieving its mission. Company culture shines through in many factors, ranging from its social media posts to employee dress code. Certain companies today pride themselves on their innovative outlook, while others retain a hierarchal structure.
Ava Danville, Assistant Director at Hofstra’s University’s Career Center, emphasizes the importance of finding your niche within the organization. “Building community within the organization, including formal and informal networking, will also help you adjust."
Katie Kochanny, a rising senior from Michigan State University, has learned a lot from her three internships. She suggests that your gut intuition is a good indicator of your success. “Starting a new internship can be a scary experience,” she says. “But, once you find yourself getting more comfortable, you’ll start seeing how far you’ve come!”
If you agree with the company’s mission, there’s a better chance that everybody will come out of the internship happier!
2. Your responsibilities have grown
While you might not appreciate the growing pile of papers on your desk, it’s definitely a sign that your boss trusts you more. You’re no longer performing busy work, for starters.
Katie recommends asking a lot of questions to showcase your initiative. "If you don’t understand something, ask,” she suggests. “You’re there for a reason. If you find yourself waiting for things to do, ask for more. Don't be afraid to ask about what you should be doing or what else you could be working on."
If you’re getting overwhelmed and stressed, reach out for help. You don't want to burn out, after all! Any company worth your while understands the importance of team-based efforts.
3. You’re being introduced to people
Who you know is just as important as what you know, especially in the business environment. While the word networking may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be a challenge. Start small–introduce yourself to one new person every day–and shoot big!
Making small talk is key. Chances are that you have something in common with your co-workers, whether it’s a favorite ice cream flavor or a basketball player. Also, if you’re being introduced amongst the team or invited to company-sponsored events, there’s a chance that they’re trying to see if you'd be a good fit!
Danville suggests starting off by looking for common ground. “In the event that there are affinity groups (ex. same school, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.) at your organization, I recommend getting involved with those as well so that you making sure that different people get to meet you; you never know who will end up advocating for you.”
Who knows whom they know? Even if you’re not being introduced to prospective employers during a job fair, informational interviews with career professionals always help.
4. Your opinion is valued
People recognize you–not just as Coffee Girl or That One Intern with the Yellow Shorts, but by your actual name. Even better, people recognize you for your work and are reaching out to you for help!
Being an intern is often like being like a fly on the wall. You are often going into a field or industry that you have little or no experience in. Compared to some of the experts sitting in the same room, it might feel as though you have nothing to contribute to the discussion–besides coffee orders, of course.
Nonetheless, Danville encourages interns to voice their opinions. “You were hired for a reason and key influencers want to hear what you have to say,” she advises. “Take some time to understand how your supervisor and others like to receive information. Knowing how to communicate with your key influencers will help you better pitch your ideas.”
Even if you’re hesitant about joining in, it’s okay. “Ask lots of questions and be curious!”
If your opinion’s being asked for and better yet, being considered in decision making processes, it’s definitely something to be proud about. From something as simple as what sushi restaurant you want to eat lunch to what project you believe would be the most fiscally sustainable, if your input is requested, it is probably valued. So, if you feel that the situation is appropriate, step up to the plate and share your opinion!
Even if you don’t identify with any of these four signs, knowing you, you’re probably on your A-game. Regardless of whether you’ve made a few mistakes, there’s definitely tons of time to rebound. Keep up the work and if you play your cards right, your internship might just turn into a full-time job offer. Shoot...and score!