How To Get Your Dream Job: Make The Most Of Your Internship

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Congratulations—you got the internship!

Okay, so you’re probably still not getting paid, but at least you’ve gotten your foot in the door.

Last summer, I interned for three months with Canadian Family magazine and, since then, I’ve found two other magazine internships, so I’m ready to help you out.

The following tips use magazines as examples but the principles you learn here can be applied to any internship.

Be a go-getter

At the end of my internship, I requested a meeting with my supervisors to learn what they thought I had done right, and to learn from what I had done wrong. One of the things they appreciated most was that I was a go-getter: I initiated my own projects and found useful ways to spend my free time.

Especially with internships, you must be prepared to have free time with “nothing” to do. The thing is, however, there is no such thing as “nothing” to do. Companies always have some sort of work that needs doing, and usually there are one or two everlasting projects that could use your organization and time.

Your supervisors will be very busy, so impress them with your ability to find something useful to do without them having to ask.

Offer something new to the company

When I left one of my internships, I presented a manual I had created with useful templates and information for new interns. It meant a little less work for my supervisors, and my fellow intern was so grateful she hugged the manual to her face.

Do more than you’re expected to do: show that you care about the company and think about what could make the job easier for the next person.

Take a genuine interest in people

I’m a big believer in this. No matter how large, companies should not be thought of as large corporate bodies, but rather as a group made up of individuals, each with their own thoughts and feelings. Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not personal, just business”? There’s no such thing.

Interact daily with all the members of your team, in and out of your department. Introduce yourself to the building security guard and the administrative assistant.

The administrative assistant at the magazine still recognizes me when I visit. During my internship, we often ran into each other in the lunch room and she put me in contact with other building personnel I needed to reach.

Ask for an assessment

A week before your last scheduled day in the office, ask your supervisor if he or she minds meeting with you for 10 minutes to discuss your performance. The feedback you receive will help you learn from your experience and prepare for the next one.

Say “thank you”

Leave everyone a thank you note: something to remember you by (not a bribe!).

Keep in touch

This is easy to do with people your age, or through Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn (a professional profile you should have—here’s why). Check in with your supervisor a few months after your internship, especially if he or she liked your work and you’re interested in a job.

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the internship for what it is: a chance to test out your dream!

Check out the other articles in the How to get your dream job series, including Write a strong resumé and Love the interview.

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About the author

Marisa Baratta loves writing, especially about topics pertaining to environmental change, animal issues, human rights and health. She loves helping others and wants to make a positive difference in the world. She is always working on publishing her books, which seek to inspire and incite laughter. She has been published in the National Post, t.o. night newspaper and on several online magazines. She completed a BA with a specialization in English and a bilingual certificate before studying Book and Magazine Publishing at Centennial College. She lives with her family and two cats (can you spot one of them in the picture?).