You have just graduated from college and are pumped to be out of school. However, after applying to hundreds of jobs, you only get a few interviews and continue to be unemployed.
What can you do?
I struggled through this process for six months. At first, I would skip anything and everything that had the word “internship” in it. Why? Because there is a lot of confusion around that term.
Being an intern is usually associated with working for free, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, an internship is a great way for graduates with limited experience to gain knowledge and hands-on experience in the industry.
How to be a Great Intern
After applying to a number of internships, I was finally hired as an intern at an Internet marketing agency. After my three-month internship, I was officially brought on as a community manager.
Here, I’ll share my experience and tips on how to be a great intern worthy of hire.
1. Be Positive and Don’t Give Up!
Before you get hired for an official position, have a positive mindset. Many students in college don't have the privilege to do co-op placements, and therefore lacked experience when competing with other great applicants. Others simply neglect the potential that is within a fresh graduate and would to prefer to hire someone with experience. Don’t let that bring you down!
You need to stay motivated and have a strong will. I decided to apply to everything I could related to marketing. I didn’t give up because I knew all I needed was an opportunity to prove myself. After hard work and persistence, I got a break.
2. Learn, Learn and LEARN!
As an intern, you want to absorb all the knowledge you can and learn as much as possible.
Knowledge is power, and not everything you learn in college can be applied to the work environment. Especially in the Internet marketing agency, where information changes quickly and Google updates are constant.
The Internet is filled with different forums and blogs that can increase your knowledge. Additionally, the resources around you in an agency are endless; your colleagues are intelligent, experienced and knowledgeable about the industry. They’ve started at an entry level position before, so you can always ask them for help and tips.
Based on my new grad experience in Internet marketing, I'd recommend learning the following five skills:
- Blogging/Writing - Whether or not English is your first language, it's important to know how to write and edit. Blogging and content writing are important for SEO and building relationships online, so practice your writing!
- SEO - There aren't many universities that offer search engine optimization as one, specific course for students. Therefore, it's good to familiarize yourself with it and best practices. Surely, you don't need to be an expert in SEO, but it's beneficial to understand how SEO affects businesses.
- Social Media - Everyone uses social media. However, you should understand how social media can be applied in a business aspect. Familiarize yourself with popular platforms and how you can utilize them for business.
- Be Present and Aware - As I mentioned earlier, learning is part of your growing process. Whether you're 15 or 82, there are always new things to learn; this applies especially to the Internet marketing industry. So, be open to learn new things and be aware of the recent changes in the environment.
- Teamwork - This is a skill that gets tested often throughout your school years. And when you're in an office environment, teamwork is often a must. It's important you learn how to effectively communicate with team members, work comfortably with others and be part of the culture.
3. Don’t be Afraid!
A common mistake as a new intern is to be afraid. You’re scared of doing something wrong, being yelled at, getting fired and being inexperienced. A healthy mix of fear is OK, but don't let it freeze you up!
You’re an intern to make mistakes and learn from them. You’re not expected to be perfect; you’re there to develop yourself into a strong, worthy hire.
If you do get disciplined during your internship, don't take it too personally; your manager and colleagues are just trying to teach you. Learn from the mistake, and move on.
4. Be Open
There are essentially two types of internships: paid or unpaid. Most of the time, you’ll see “stipend” under salary.
Many graduates avoid these because they don’t want to work for an underpaid position. But, sometimes, it’s not about the money.
You can’t buy experience and knowledge. So, don’t be afraid to take on an internship, even if it’s not your ideal pay. Also, don’t let the pay bother you and do half the work. Welcome the internship with open arms and be excited!
5. Ask Questions and Do More
One of the easiest ways to learn is to ask questions. Google is a good first stop for information, but if you are still confused and not sure how to do something, ask your colleagues. They’ll be more than happy to teach you and give you their personal tips.
Then, when you’re done a task, keep asking for more things to do. The only way you can absorb more is by doing more. Reading an article and learning from a guide is great, but it is much more different than doing a task hands-on.
6. Give it Your Best
Just like everything else in life, give it your best. A job is never guaranteed after an internship, but it’s especially not when you’re not putting any effort into it.
Show your bosses that you’re worth being hired. During the internship, continue to excel and improve yourself. You want your employers to know you’re an important part of the company now.
I always ask myself the question, “What do I have to lose?” You might not get hired for a full-time position, but that shouldn't discourage you. Think about the amount of knowledge and experience you’ve gained, and how it will help you land your ideal job.
Lastly, take the internship for what it is and exceed expectations. Enjoy the experience, and try to have fun!
Any other tips for interns or new grads? Let me know in the comments.