You’ve landed your internship. You’ve gotten your parking space, been introduced to all of your new colleagues and heard about all of the exciting projects you’ll be working on (which hopefully extend beyond fetching your boss lunch and stapling documents for hours on end). Now you’re asking yourself, “What can I do to stand out here? How can I really impress my supervisor?” In essence, you’re asking how to be an all-star.
Having had multiple interns of my own, and having been an intern at several different organizations while I was in college, I can say that there is a big difference between being a good intern and being an all-star intern. It’s easy enough to come in everyday, act interested, perform reasonably well on projects, and make small talk with co-workers. Doing so will probably net you a good (albeit non-remarkable) recommendation from your supervisor and a warm, yet generic “We’ll miss you!” farewell at the end of your internship. However, if you want to be truly memorable — if you want to be an all-star — you have to take it a step further.
Here are some of the common traits that all-star interns share:
1.) All-Stars Take Initiative
They don’t wait for projects to come to them; they actively seek new responsibilities and find ways to contribute. If all-stars get done with their normal workload early in the day, they do not sit idle or talk to their friends on AIM. Instead, they approach their supervisor or other staff members with ideas for additional assignments they can take on. All-stars are constantly thinking of projects that will broaden their skill sets and support the goals of their boss.
2.) All-Stars Find a Way To Get It Done
If given a challenging task, all-stars don’t make excuses as to why it can’t be completed- they find a way to overcome any obstacles and make it happen. As a supervisor, I love being able to delegate a task to one of my interns and not worry about all of the little hiccups that may arise. All-stars use common sense and problem-solving abilities to handle any curveballs thrown their way; they aren’t constantly coming back to the boss for help.
3.) All-Stars Don’t Come To Work Hungover
4.) All-Stars Complete Assignments On-Time
My most frustrating intern experience took place when I had promised a colleague that my intern would finish a project for her by Wednesday afternoon. The following Tuesday- almost a week later- I finally received the project from the intern. This made me look bad. With all-stars, you don’t have to worry about work getting done on-time. In the very rare case that an all-star is going to miss a deadline, he makes sure to communicate this before it happens.
5.) All-Stars Communicate With Their Supervisors
My personal pet peeve is interns (or anyone, for that matter) who do not respond to my e-mails. I am obsessive about tending to my inbox, so I get frustrated when other people do not respond to e-mail or phone messages that contain questions. All-stars understand the importance of staying in close contact with their supervisors — offering status updates, and generally being available whenever their supervisor needs them.
6.) All-Stars Understand Office Politics, But Remain Above the Fray
They’re aware of the political landscape within the office, they understand any tensions that may be present between full-time employees, and they’ve got a good grasp on which projects may be contentious. They leverage this knowledge as they navigate the workplace. Yet, they don’t engage in any of the gossip or negative talk that they may hear among their elder colleagues.
7.) All-Stars Know How to Take Constructive Criticism
A huge differentiating factor between a good intern and an all-star is his or her ability to receive criticism. Good interns listen to criticism; all-stars really hear the criticism and internalize what you are saying. You can be sure that an all-star will take your feedback into account when completing future assignments.
Ultimately, all-stars take a proactive and self-directed approach to their internship. They understand that they are being given a learning opportunity, and do everything they can to capitalize on this opportunity. All-stars contribute to the team and build strong relationships with those around them. And in the future, they have the best chance of being offered a full-time job with the company- or at the very least, receiving a stellar recommendation for employment elsewhere.
Are you ready to be an all-star?