By Britt Gordon, summer intern, Xerox
Internships are an exciting time for any college student. You’ve sat through hours of classes, tons of tests and finally feel ready to get a taste of the real working world. When I joined Xerox as a summer intern two months ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but made it my mission to be a sponge and soak up every bit of the experience. For fellow students seeking to make the most of their internships, I offer these three simple pieces of advice:
- Be like a fly on the wall. Being an intern is as much about doing work as it is observing. And just because you’re out of the classroom, doesn’t mean that learning has stopped. You’ll quickly realize that it’s just beginning. Take every opportunity you can to learn about the company you’re working for. Ask to sit in on meetings, even if you really have no business being there. Just listening in on conversations and being a bit of a fly on the wall during meetings will help you learn more about the company’s culture, how it operates and how you can contribute.
- Be adventurous. Though it may seem difficult to be truly adventurous in an office setting, those of you who are introverted may need to step outside of your comfort zone if you want to get noticed. Here’s an easy tip: When riding up or down the elevator alone, practice your “elevator pitch” – a quick intro that you’ll use to meet folks around the office. When riding with others, simply introduce yourself and use the 20 second opportunity to learn something or meet someone new. Just putting yourself out there and being naturally interested is a great way to become connected with people who (you likely won’t find this out until much later) are very influential. Also, don’t be afraid to schedule informational meetings with people you don’t work directly with, but work in areas that you are interested in. Most people are more than willing to meet with interns, talk about their jobs and offer career advice. Remember, they were interns once too!
- Write it all down. In an environment where everything is new and learning is constant, it helps to organize your thoughts by writing down your most critical ideas. Take a few minutes after important and constructive discussions you have with coworkers, whether it be through meetings or informal conversations, to list the key takeaways or summarize what you learned to help crystallize your thinking. This will serve you well, not only as a reference, but as a way to help make smart decisions about your next steps on the job, and take advantage of future opportunities.
Britt is a senior at Boston College studying marketing and international studies.