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4 Keys to a Successful Internship

Bonny Calfy | April 2, 2015

Professional internships can be one of the most rewarding aspects of your collegiate career. They provide ways to apply what you are learning in college to a practical business setting. Internships are also essential to early networking opportunities- a good way to get your foot in the door after graduation.

There are four keys to success that every intern must know in order to transition their internship opportunity into a lifelong career.

1. Mindset

Interns who find successful full-time roles after graduation have a certain mindset that is goal-oriented. These individuals go into an internship with goals of personal excellence and self-mastery, and push harder to add value to the company. These students are the ones who will be noticed by others, and are the ones who employers want.

Think about it this way: With any professional role, your job is to produce results; results are driven by actions, and actions by attitudes. Starting day one, own your attitude and perspective about your internship.

2. Professional Brand

Don’t forget that your brand is important. You either can define what that is or have it defined for you. Just remember: Everything you do in an internship either adds to or takes away from your professional brand. Creating a positive brand of professional excellence can help catapult your career in the right direction.

3. Work Ethic

The things we do, day in and day out, to achieve our goals is determined by how we define our work ethic. It’s what wakes us up in the morning to go into work early. It’s what makes us stay late on a Friday night and even can be what motivates us to never stop striving for excellence in what we do.  As an intern, your definition for work ethic ultimately can make or break your future career.

A good internship offers hands-on experience with executives who have the drive to help develop your career. Your job as an intern revolves around learning as much as possible, communicating effectively and adding value as often as you can. This type of consistent work ethic produces top performers in any organization.

4. Stand Up and Step Out

College graduates bring benefits such as new energy and fresh ideas to companies. In order to show your true value, it is important to step out of your comfort zone. By doing so, you will show your new employer just how valuable of a commodity you are.

For example, I know a young woman who had a summer internship and during her onboarding process, she noticed it was less than efficient, so she developed several small improvements, making the entire process more effective.

As a result, the onboarding process was changed at the corporate level, and all because of her willingness to shake off fear and offer valuable insight. Now she is being actively recruited, not only by that company, but several others. This intern is living proof that what you do can result in a great opportunity. Keep in mind that when presenting ideas, ensure you communicate them the appropriate way by using the correct company processes.

Internship programs are meant to grow your mind, help you develop a strong work ethic and challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. Take full advantage of the opportunities that are in front of you, and you will be successful. Apply these principles while interning and watch your professional capital grow right before your eyes.

About the author
Author picture, Bonny Calfy
Bonny Calfy
As Paycom’s employer brand supervisor, Bonny Calfy oversees all recruitment marketing and employer brand efforts nationwide. Her brand awareness efforts extend over 10 years and have included launching the Paycom Careers blog and social media channels and producing recruitment videos, all to help attract top talent nationwide. Outside work, Bonny enjoys reading; fishing; and spending time with her husband, children and friends.