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As a high school or college student, participating in an internship is an ideal way for you to learn about a career area while building professional skills. But what do you do if you have little to no work experience? How can you ensure you will stand out as an intern and be memorable? Organizations value qualities such as enthusiasm, willingness to dive into new territory, an ambitious mindset, and excellent listening and follow-through skills. While not every employer is seeking the same set of qualities, here are five sure ways you can make an impact as an intern.
Take Initiative | Be Confident
Once you begin your internship, hit the ground running and maintain a steady pace. Organizations appreciate determined individuals who work hard and dive head first into projects. Along with the willingness to go above and beyond, be what everyone calls a “go-getter”. That means taking initiative, responding quickly, and always following through on tasks. Showing ambition and being focused showcases your potential leadership skills and provides you with an opportunity to assert confidence. You want to be viewed as a reliable asset who adds value to the organization.
Adaptability | Be Coachable
Strive for flexibility. Being able to take on a variety of projects makes you indispensable and will increase your future marketability. Another ideal quality of an intern is to be coachable, which means you are open to being taught as and you can also take criticism. Today’s fast-paced work environments often don’t allow for long learning curves, which may force a supervisor or co-worker to be brutally honest. If you make a mistake, don’t let it shatter your ego! Consider it an opportunity to learn, make corrections, and move on.
Curiosity | Be Inquisitive
Being curious and asking questions widens your knowledge base and capacity to problem solve. This is an invaluable skill that needs to be developed. And it’s not just about asking lots of questions – it’s about asking the right questions. As an intern, be inquisitive and exhibit your passion to learn, your ability to evaluate a situation, and your potential to find solutions without relying on someone else.
Attitude | Be Positive
Are you one of those people who always sees the glass as half full? If so, having a positive attitude will take you far. If you tend to be more pessimistic, adjust accordingly by making a conscious effort to change your approach. A positive attitude will be noticed right away by managers and coworkers, and they will see this quality as indication of your ability to manage stress and allow for open communication in the workplace. Attitude is important. Strive to be enthusiastic, professional, and optimistic!
Autonomy | Be Independent
Autonomy–or the ability to work independently–is another ideal quality of an intern. Autonomy allows a mentor to trust you – with minimal supervision – to complete projects, thereby giving them more time to take care of pressing business. If you are independent, you will ask for help (either in person or via email or phone call) if needed. Your supervisor will worry less and you will find a way to contribute without being told explicitly what to do. This is especially true for remote internships, where you won’t have an opportunity to turn to a supervisor or coworker to ask them a question.
These are just a few of the many qualities that improve career readiness skills and can make you stand out in an internship. And, it’s likely you have displayed some of these qualities in other areas of your life–such as in school, volunteer work, hobbies, sports, or other activities. If you make an effort to incorporate these (and any other desirable traits) into your internship experience, you’re sure to make an impact.