5 Things to Help You Stand Out at Your First Internship

There are a lot of great lists like this on WSO that have been very beneficial to me over the last few years. I want to throw out 5 that I do not remember seeing on the site. Hopefully this helps some of you guys about to start your first internships/full-time positions!

1) Keep your phone in your pocket - This is key to a) establishing a strong brand for yourself in the office, and b) to being productive. Resist the temptation to check your phone every time it vibrates. Believe it or not, your co-workers are very likely to judge you based on how hard they see you working. If they see you on your phone, they will assume you are slacking off. The more time you spend on your phone at your desk, the more likely people will see you. Shut it off, or at least keep it in your pocket.

If I really need to use my phone at my desk, I turn away from my computer and make it obvious I am using it for something serious. When I see other people do this, I assume it is something important since they are not trying to hide it. I have seen a lot of people sit with their phones directly in front of them on their desk between their chest and the keyboard or hide it behind their monitor. One guy I used to work with would hide his phone behind a coffee mug and watch Netflix a few hours a day. All these tactic make it obvious you are trying to hide the fact you are on your phone, and will only hurt you in the long run.

2) Go from "I think" to "I know" - This was something my most recent boss put on every one of my performance reviews and it helped me tremendously. Always work to know things, as opposed to thinking you know. If you are getting new tires put on your car, do you want your mechanic to say "We replaced your tires, I think you should be good to go" or would you prefer "We replaced your tires, you are good to go!" Avoid saying things like "I think it was around 95%", and instead say "It's 95%". This does not mean lie and say you are certain about something, which could be even worse than saying you think you know it. It means you should understand what you are talking about, and research and prepare for every meeting.

3) Think from your boss's perspective - Think about the final product of the work you are giving to your boss. In most cases, he/she will have to pass your work on to their boss. The better you do, the more time it saves for your boss. In my most recent position, my boss had me write a lot of her formal business letters and her presentations because she trusted that I would put something together that she would not need to edit. I always took in mind the audience (her boss, customer, supplier, etc.) and tailored specifically to them.

4) Look beyond the small tasks that you are asked to complete and think about why your boss wants to you do each one - This builds on the previous concept. When I first started in a new position, my boss had me spend a lot of time doing data entry and uploading information into our databases. I thought it was a complete waste of time. A few months later, I realized that I was starting to understand a lot of what my team was working on and talking about because I spent a few hours a day my first few months doing the boring work.

5) Google everything - This seems obvious, but it can really save you (and your boss) a lot of time. When I was an intern, I used to get hilarious Excel questions from other interns. The best one was how to add a column. It sounds simple, but you can save a lot of time by quickly Googling your questions before you ask someone else. Even if you Google a question first, you can at least say "I tried Googling this, do you know how to do it?".

I hope these help. Good luck to everyone starting in new positions over the next few weeks!

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