Summer internships are a great way to gain experience in the field you’re interested in and further your potential career. By the time I started my last internship before graduating from Tufts University, there were many things I wish I had known during my first so that I could have fully taken advantage of the experience. If you’re in one of these coveted paid or unpaid positions now, here are 4 ways you can get the most from your internship and start on the right path for your career.
1. Meet your fellow interns
You and your fellow interns will be the future of your business. These people will be your coworkers and possibly bosses one day. That’s why it’s important to get to know the other interns working in your company. Attend intern events and if there is a list of interns in the company see who may be around your department and make an effort to say hello. These connections you form with your fellow interns will one day be just as important as the connections you form with older professionals in the company.
2. Take on extra assignments that interest you
While getting in early and staying a little late can show you’re dedicated to an internship, the truth is you should show you are efficient and can get your assignments done in the normal span of a work day. However you can show dedication by coming in early and leaving late to work on extra assignments you’ve asked for. If your internship doesn’t include an area that you are interested in pursuing or trying, don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor for the opportunity. They will usually be happy to see that you are open to more work and can handle it.
3. Network! Reach out to other people in the company for informational interviews
If this is your first internship, I can’t stress enough the importance of not hesitating to ask someone you don’t directly work with to get a coffee and discuss what they do. You need to take advantage of your access to the company during the three or so months you are there. Who knows the next time you will be seeing these people walk by in the hallways, know where they sit, or have access to the database with their email addresses? Even if you’re interested in speaking with a big name Vice President, don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor if they think you can ask for a meeting or if they sit next to you and say hi every morning, to develop that conversation further. I am a firm believer in taking advantage of the email database you have access to during internships as well. Usually you can find someone’s email in the system so why not send a short hello and introduction about why you’d love to talk with them? Sometimes you may feel too shy to push the send button but remember, the worst thing that can happen is they don’t respond or say no. It’s worth the risk! This is the best networking opportunity you may have to set the groundwork for your future career.
4. Write thank you notes when you leave and stay in touch
It’s very true that a hand-written thank you note will set you apart from the rest of the crowd. Write notes for your supervisors and anyone who helped you or met with you for an informational interview during your internship. Have a list of these people so that you can follow-up with them in a few months to keep your connection open. When you send your email they’ll remember you as the amazing intern who took the time to write them a thank you note at the end!
This article originally appeared on Career Girl Network.