How to Be the Best Intern EVER

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Niti Shah
Niti Shah



Congratulations! You’ve landed an internship -- one of the six things you must do to get your first job after college, says Forbes Magazine. You’re extremely excited, and your new employer has even promised that your job description doesn't involve delivering coffee or working in the copy room.

Now you’re faced with the real challenge: How will you leave your mark?

Since I happen to be working at a company where there are plenty of interns, former interns, and people who know how to hire kick-ass interns, I traveled far-and-wide (around the office), curating some tried-and-true, pearls of internship wisdom. The end result is a compilation of pro tips from HubSpotters including Chief Technology Officer Dharmesh Shah, Chief Marketing Officer Mike Volpe, and the current intern class.

Here’s their advice about how you can be the best intern ... ever.

1) Be a Go-Getter

rose-demaio-headshotRose DeMaio, Product Engineering Intern:

“Start working before you start working! Email your manager two weeks before your first day and ask if there is any reading, prep work, or research you should do. Reaching out before you actually start will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that you can hit the ground running. If you're not asked to do anything, it's still a good idea to freshen up on your company knowledge. Do they blog? Do they have a tool you could get a free trial of?"

ellie-mirman-headshotEllie Mirman, Head of Inbound Marketing Funnel:

“Don't wait for someone to ask you to do something. Execute on the projects given to you, but don't stop there. Identify problems in the business and find ways to solve them. This shows that you're not just ready to jump in, but that you're also hungry enough to go ahead and do it. It also shows that you're smart -- able to identify problems and solutions -- and that you put your actions where your mouth is. Even in the most successful business, there are problems to be solved. If you're not sure where to start, talk to employees and learn about their challenges and think about how you can make their lives easier.”

2) Prove Your Smarts

sarah-goliger-headshotSarah Goliger, Paid Marketing Strategist:

“Ask good questions. People often say you should "ask a lot of questions," but you don't want to be that intern always asking a million annoying questions -- you need to prove that you're able to think and act independently. But asking good questions shows that you're both pushing yourself to learn more and are capable of thinking about the company, your team, and its goals and challenges at a higher level.”

mike-volpe-headshotMike Volpe, Chief Marketing Officer:

“Have that one project that you completely own as an intern. It can be big or small, but it should be fully yours and add value to your team. Do the work, and then get up in front of your manager and team members and present it. This is your chance to make your mark, especially if you're only at the company for a short-term position like an internship.”

3) Push Yourself

daniel-murphy-headshotDan Murphy, Product Marketing Intern:

“Don’t cite the job description as your limits -- use that as a starting point. Contribute and participate beyond that. Your contribution can be using your intellect and creativity to make an existing project better, or compose something totally outside of your job description.”

4) But Know When to Say No

brendan-macarthur-1Brendan MacArthur, Product Marketing Intern:

“Don’t be afraid to say no. Sometimes, you will be approached to contribute on a lot of projects, but you need to decide realistically if you will have the time to focus on them as well as what you need to get done. Be forthright with managers and co-workers about your workload, talk to them about what you're working on, and create self-imposed deadlines to stay on track.”

5) Be a Team Player

benjamin-ratner-headshotBen Ratner, Inbound Marketing Co-op:

“Consider yourself an integral part of the team, and with everything you contribute, remember that your involvement is playing a critical role in helping the team as a whole achieve their objectives. Celebrate your team's successes, but also allow your fair share of the blame if things don't go as planned.”

michelle-tuzman-headshotMichelle Tuzman, Finance Intern: 

“What goes around comes around. Know or seek out what needs to be done on your end to make your teammates' jobs easier. There is a good chance that at this internship, or later in your career, they’ll give you support, too.”

6) Network Like It’s Your (Second) Job

dharmesh-shah-headshotDharmesh Shah, Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer:

“Capitalize on the opportunity to meet as many new people as you can -- classmates at school, co-workers at internships -- particularly in other majors or departments. Pretend that every great person you meet will increase your net worth by $100,000. You will be surprised how many of these people you will someday work with, start a company with -- or who will otherwise support you. In this day and age, your net worth is impacted significantly by your network.  It’s not just the size, but also the quality of that network.”

audrey-alpizar-headshotAudrey Alpizar, Development Intern:

“Get to know your mentor, manager, and team members. Schedule one-on-one meetings, and invite them to have a meal with you. It's important to build relationships with your co-workers to help understand how they work and form a better working environment. You can also gain valuable career advice as well as establish networks for future employment.”

7) And Always Remember the Basics

lynelle-schmidt-headshotLynelle Schmidt, Inbound Marketing Co-op:

“Go to lunch! Some of the other interns at my last job would eat lunch at their desk every day. Sometimes it’s necessary to eat a quick lunch, but for your sanity and well-being, make an effort to take a break and leave your post. It helps break up your day, bond with fellow co-workers, and allows you to refocus when you get back to your desk.”

abhinav-arora-headshotAbhinav Arora, Inbound Marketing MBA Intern:

“Remember your work etiquette: don’t hit “reply-all” to a company-wide email if you’re responding to one person. That’s a sure-fire way to annoy people right off the bat. And definitely don’t 'accidentally' publish your funny cat video to your company's YouTube account."

Remember, future directors and CEOs of the world: Doing what is expected of you will get you a pat on the back and a decent recommendation. Being kick-ass, on the other hand, will get you a network of mentors and friends, a vast array of experience, a great leg-up on your future career path ... and maybe even a job! If you have more questions and want to chat with a fellow intern, feel free to follow me on Twitter:

Image Credit: David Boyle

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