9 Things Companies Wish Their Interns Knew Before Starting

By Eleanor Rose| August 22, 2017

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How can a new intern hit the ground running?

Internships often span just a few months, so you don’t have the luxury of time to get acquainted or ramp up your skills.

Here’s some tips on how to jumpstart your transition and get you headed in the right direction fast. Companies want interns to step in with confidence, ready to make things happen. Be that intern.

Here are the 9 things companies wish their interns knew before starting:

1. Know the company

Here’s a no-brainer: take the time to research the company that you will be working for. Before you even arrive, companies expect interns to have a solid idea of what their company does. Incoming interns should read through company websites and social media sites to get a feel for their culture, structure and mission.

  • Learn your company’s biggest successes and their greatest challenges.
  • Get better acquainted with their primary services
  • Explore their client base to understand their customers
  • Study the competition, see who they are up against
  • Read recent press releases, usually on their website
  • Look up recent events, such as fundraisers, awards or educational seminars. You can usually find this on social media and their website.
  • Look up the people you’ll be working with. LinkedIn is a great place to do some homework. Look at their personal interests, so you can connect on another level too.
  • See how people dress. Showing up in jeans when you are expected to dress in business style will be really awkward.

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2. What you need to bring

Arrive on day one with what you need. Are you expected to bring a laptop, research notes or ideas?

Ask and be prepared. You’ll be so much more confident.

3. Brush up on skills

Employers will expect you to have the basic skills of your job mastered. Even as an incoming intern, take the time to brush up on the basics. Know the job and learn more about the required skills needed to get the job done—and practice. Polish your skills in Excel, study how legislation gets passed, practice design programs like Photoshop or brush up on journalistic style.

Don’t fumble the ball when asked to dive in.

The better you are, the more valuable you will make yourself to the company both as an intern and as a future job candidate.

4. Be authentic

Being the new person on the job is awkward.

But don’t let that get in the way of being yourself. That’s why they hired you!

Companies want to see the real you in action. If you act like what you think they want you to be, rather than who you are, then you will be unhappy and so will everyone else. Go into your internship open-minded, and just be yourself.

5. Know that your work matters

Interns contribute a big part of a team. Though internships are often brief, it is important that you go in ready to take your work seriously.

No matter how large or small the task at-hand, do it like it matters, because it actually does.

Remember, everyone around you is working hard to build their careers and grow with the company. You are an important part of your team.

6. Know what you want to get out of your internship

Goals get you to the finish line. You’ve only got a few months, so think about what you want to achieve. Clarity of purpose can lead to others helping you get there, or your supervisor giving you special projects to work on.

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7. Be prepared to try, try again

One of the things that most interns get hung up on is the fear of doing something wrong.

Trying to be perfect all the time will cause you huge stress. Companies want you to learn and grow.

Everyone will mess up at some point. Don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t beat yourself up when you do. An internship is a time to try new things, learn from them, and companies want to help you experience this growth.

8. Make a list of questions

Since you have done some work ahead of time, you will have questions about the company and your job. You’ll never remember them all, so write them down. In this case, curiosity does not kill the cat! It is an asset. In fact, keep a journal of your experience and what you learned.

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9. Bring a positive attitude

Above all else, companies want to guide and work with interns who have a positive attitude. You’re going to experience ups and downs. This is all part of the learning process, but it’s how you handle those tough times that define your character.

You have a choice: you can either be a grump or take it with a smile.

Before you start your internship, remind yourself that you are taking the next step of a much greater process and path towards professional and personal growth. So, jump in with both feet, and make the most of this invaluable opportunity.

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