Congratulations, career-minded [collegians]; you’ve officially made it to the halfway point of your summer internship! Spending hours picking out your perfectly-ironed first-day outfit and getting to the office 45 minutes early for fear of getting lost seems like it happened so long ago. You have a good feel for how everything works in the office now and you’re settled in a familiar routine, so it’s time to relax, right?
Not so fast, [collegians]! Just because you’re getting more comfortable with your internship doesn’t mean you should stop being that hyper-dedicated, super-efficient intern you were the first week when you were desperately trying to make a good first impression on your boss. Now is the perfect time to make sure you’re still on the right track to having your boss remember you as that awesome intern who they should definitely hire one day (or at least give a good recommendation to), so don’t slack off now! Take our advice to keep up the good work halfway through your internship and you’ll be sure to keep knocking your supervisor’s socks off.
1. Ask your supervisor for an evaluation
Sure, you’re set in a pretty good routine now, but you want to make sure it’s the right routine. Now that you’ve got the hang of things, ask your boss to give you a mid-internship evaluation to make sure you’re still holding up to their expectations. Shoot her an e-mail to see if she has a couple minutes to meet up after work or during your lunch break to discuss how you’re doing.
“Try saying something like, ‘I’ve really been enjoying my position with your company, and I’ve been learning a lot. Now that I’m halfway through this internship, I was wondering if you’d like to offer any feedback so I can improve upon my work. Are there any aspects of my performance I should give more attention to?’” suggests Heather Huhman, career expert and founder and president of Come Recommended, a marketing and PR company for organizations that target employers and job seekers. “Not only will this show your boss you’re serious about your position, but it will also give you the motivation to improve as you enter the second half of your internship.”
Getting a critique from your boss can be intimidating, so keep an open mind and remember that her comments are for your own benefit. Nobody likes a defensive know-it-all; listen respectfully and take notes on how you can improve your work. Your supervisor knows what she’s talking about, and you’re there to learn, after all!
2. Ask for more responsibility and pitch new ideas
Don’t be that “ghost intern” who never, ever approaches their boss. Now that you have a handle on the job you’re currently doing, it’s time to make it harder by asking for more responsibility.
“Remember, you want this experience to not just be comfortable and easy – you want it to be challenging and allow you to grow,” says Gary Alan Miller, former assistant director of University Career Services at UNC-Chapel Hill. “If you find yourself a little too comfortable, I recommend you seek out your supervisor and ask for some new challenges.”
You’ve (hopefully) proven by now that you can do your work—and do it well—so think of three to five new ideas or projects and pitch them to your supervisor, Miller suggests. Your boss wants to hear that you’re creative, invested in the company, and forward-thinking, so don’t be afraid to suggest new things! And how cool would it be if the company actually ended up using your ideas? Hello, resume booster!
“Don’t assume that because you’ve only been given certain responsibilities that you cannot go outside of those areas. It really is up to you to show them that you are motivated and capable,” Miller says.
3. Start networking with other departments
Now that you’re comfortable with your own job, why not learn about some of the other roles in the office? “If you haven’t been meeting people within the organization but outside of your current role, it may be time to start asking people out to coffee,” says Miller. “Try to connect with at least one new person each week, if not more. Ask them about their jobs and for their advice on your career.” Shoot your coworkers an email introducing yourself and asking if they’d be free to grab a coffee sometime this week. Who knows, a meeting with someone in a different department could even open you up to a career path you hadn’t previously considered.
Ariana Finlayson, former staff editor at UsMagazine.com and current features and social media director for Ed2010, an organization that helps student journalists break into the magazine industry, suggests setting up informational interviews with people in different departments you want to know more about.
“At a recent Ed2010 panel, one editor said that she has met a few interns toward the end of their internships and they were so great, she wishes they had reached out for a meeting sooner!” Finlayson says. “Halfway through is a good time because you have a few weeks under your belt and have hopefully proven that you can handle the different tasks thrown your way.”
Finlayson suggests making the meeting quick and somewhere nearby, such as at the building’s café or in the employee’s office, and always come prepared.
“I once had an informational interview with a recent grad and she came prepped with a list of questions she wanted to ask me. That told me she was organized and really interested in learning more,” Finlayson says.
If a one-on-one meeting sounds too intimidating, “ask to sit in on meetings to get a better grasp of how the company functions,” suggests Kayla Inanc, brand coordinator for Intern Queen, Inc..
4. Hang out with your fellow interns
You don’t just have to network with other employees—why not network with the other interns, too? They may seem like competition at times, but your fellow interns could be just as useful to your future job search as other employees. “I still talk to the girls I interned with at my very first internship, and they’re at various magazines and we’ve even helped each other along the way,” says Finlayson. “Having friends in the industry is very, very important.”
Career incentives aside, it’s always fun to hang out with people who have similar interests as you! Next time you’re in the office, suggest to the interns that you grab dinner or drinks after work on Friday, or plan a Saturday lunch date. Get to know each other, swap career advice, or just plain hang out and enjoy one another’s company. But make sure you’re not getting so chummy that you become unprofessional; if you complain about work to your fellow interns or get a little too sloppy during an interns’ night out, that could easily make its way back to your supervisor.
5. Think to the future
The best way to stay on track is to create a list of goals for your internship and your future career. What do you still want to do in the time you have left in your internship? Whether it’s a contact you wanted to make or a project you wanted to work on, write it down to make sure it doesn’t slip your mind before you’re done; two to three months can go by pretty fast.
“Ask yourself this question: ‘When this internship is over, what do I want to be able to say I accomplished?’” says Miller. “Having that mental picture of what you want to experience will help you craft the experience in a positive way.”
Huhman suggests writing down “a list of 10 ‘pros’ about your internship and how it relates to your goals.”
“This can include how the opportunity will benefit your career specifically, what you’ve learned about your industry, how you can apply these new skills elsewhere, etc.,” says Huhman. “Seeing an organized list of the positive aspects of your position can help you to remember why you were so excited about the opportunity to begin with, and ultimately, power you through the rest of the summer.”
So what are you waiting for? Write down your goals, get networking, and make the most of the last month or so that you have left of this opportunity!