Getting the Most Out of Your Internship: Do the Small Things


I’ve seen it happen many times: the beginning of the internship is filled with energy and enthusiasm, but by week four, the tasks seem boring and tedious and the countdown is on for Friday. What was once an exciting opportunity that you vowed to make the most of is now just another job.

What happened? Often I think that interns get stuck in a rut and fail to see the long-term value their internship will have. In many cases, this is one of the interns’ first experiences in the “real workplace” and they can’t wait to sharpen their pencils, put on a newly purchased suit and begin applying their newfound book smarts to the workforce. What they fail to remember is that it’s a process.

Like other things in life, before you can be trusted with the big things, you must first prove yourself with the “little” things. Now when I say little things, I don’t mean unimportant things. Quite the opposite! The little things are often the most important things. Sending invoices to customers, answering phone calls, filing – all very important! We have a motto in the AroundCampus Group office: the customer signs our paycheck. Therefore, our customer is our ultimate boss. All of the small tasks that are necessary to carry on the business of our office and fulfill our promises to them are of the utmost importance.

In our office, we rely heavily on interns and part-time workers in our office to do this important work. Having this strong support system enables our managers to oversee the “big picture” and pay close attention to deadlines, overall percentages, and other high-level goals. We simply could not accomplish our work without the help of our intern crew.

Okay, so you’re following me so far—the “little things” are important. Yet, you’re tired of answering the phone and sending emails and what you really want is to have more responsibility. What do you do? Prove yourself with the small things. Show your manager that you can succeed and go above and beyond on any “small” task that is assigned to you. Do this and I assure you that you will have a manager’s seat in no time.

One more thing—attitude. Always maintain a positive and gracious attitude. When your manager brings you yet another large stack of filing, greet her with an enthusiastic smile and say “thank you, I’ll get right on this!” Even if you don’t like to file, as the saying goes, “fake it until you make it.” When you reach out to that same manager six months from now for a recommendation or to inquire about openings, they will remember this. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you are or how many A’s you had last semester, they will immediately think back to your disposition as an intern. Think about it. As a manager, whom would you rather work with—the intern who always greeted requests with positivity and a smile, or the intern you dreaded approaching? Never underestimate the power of a positive attitude.

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