6 tips to get the most out of your internship

June 2, 2015, 2:45 PM UTC

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “How can you turn an internship into a full-time job?” is by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.

Internships are typically your first experience in the work world. Its unknown territory. And while there is no exact formula for turning your internship into a full-time job (especially at a small startup), here is some advice that could be helpful, no matter what industry or office you’re working in:

Be social
This seems like frivolous advice, but nothing will benefit you more than building lasting relationships. Introduce yourself to people (unprompted). Attend company events (and mingle). Get lunch with your coworkers. All these little things help people remember you, so when a position becomes available they won’t be heading to LinkedIn, they’ll be calling you.

Keep your expectations in check
The worst thing you could possibly do is to head into an internship expecting to get a job. No one is going to hand anything to you. Instead, focus on doing your best work, and going above and beyond expectations. When I held my first internship, I was tasked with browsing around for competitive intelligence. This seemed like a mindless task, but instead of handing my boss a bunch of random ideas at the end of the day, I spent time figuring out which ones were working, which were not, and why. Eventually a few of these ideas actually passed in a product meeting and one was fully implemented.

Stay humble
Again, obvious advice, but as an intern no task should be beneath you. You may be writing a story for the website one day, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be getting coffee and collating papers the next. Remember, you’re there to help them, and only then will they be more willing to help you.

Show confidence
Beginning an internship is intimidating. Everyone around you operates the same way and somehow understands this secret unspoken language. As an intern you may feel like you’re bumbling through the office with a very limited idea of how things work, but confidence in your own abilities is so important. Because if you dont believe you deserve a job, they won’t either.

Be unafraid to fail
It’s easy to use the excuse–“I’m an intern and I haven’t been here long enoughor I don’t know how this works and I can’t do this.” But it’s better to try and try again, even if you completely miss your mark. This will show your coworkers you’re willing to take risks and not afraid to fail.

Use your time wisely
There will come a time when youre an intern and you complete a task, but everyone else is busy, and you will essentially have “nothing” to do. The difference between a good intern and great intern is what they do when they have nothing to do. A great intern sees the end of their to-do list as an opportunity to find new projects or meet new people, essentially becoming more valuable to the team. So instead of sitting around stalking the Kardashians or obsessively checking ESPN, come up with organized, researched ideas. Your eagerness to go above and beyond will leave a lasting impression, and showcase your creativity.

Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: How can you turn an internship into a full-time job?

3 ways to turn your internship into a full-time job by Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Chegg.

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