Above and Beyond: How to stand out in a sea of rolling interns


November 9, 2016


Sometimes, you take an internship just for the hours – endlessly logging clothes in a fashion closet, or running small errands for assistants. But sometimes you land a true gem, the coveted diamond of internships, and you need to find a way to not only be memorable, but perhaps even score your dream job when it’s all over. After having the summer internship of my dreams, here are my top tips for standing out amongst the crowd:

Miranda Priestly

Take notes
Designate a new notebook for each placement (yes, this is officially permission to go buy that gorgeous Kate Spade notebook you’ve had your eye on). Whenever you get some new info – somebody’s name, a login, the number of the IT guy – write it down. You’ll never risk looking indifferent by asking the same question twice.

But also ask questions
You’ll be memorable for all the wrong reasons if you cause a problem that can’t be fixed with some good ol’ L’Oreal Kids Tangle Tamer. If it concerns external contacts, company money, or anything else that could cost the company big-time, it’s always better to ask twice.

Nix the social media
Make it a personal rule to never log into social media, or even better, tuck your phone into your bag whenever you’re at your internship. What starts as a casual scroll through your most recent updates on Instagram, soon leads to a dark spiral of half-hours spent reading “important” notifications and totally losing track of time. You’ll seem extraordinarily time efficient and organized when you keep those distractions to a minimum.

Anticipate needs
Once you’ve gotten the hang of things, try to be extra observant of routines and deadlines, even if they aren’t yours. The photoshoot is tomorrow? Pack up everything the day before, without being asked. Waiting on a package from the courier? Check with the mail room every hour. Your boss will be uber-impressed when you’re assigned a task and you can immediately respond with, “Already done, here it is!”

Make your boss’s job easier
Everyone has their quirks, pay attention to the little nuances your boss expresses. They hate talking on the phone? Offer to make those small calls for them to lighten their workload. You might not get a yes, but it shows you’re invested in helping. 

Always, always, be doing something
Finished your to-do list? Ask somebody else if there’s anything you can do for them. Aside from showing how hardworking you are, doing favours for people other than your boss is just one more way to show you genuinely care about being there.

Smooth exit
At the end of your internship, make sure everything you worked on is clearly organized and easy for the next intern to pick up where you left off. That notebook you kept from the beginning is now doubly helpful, as you can give it to your boss to pass along to the next intern. It helps stop them from having to answer all the newbie’s questions, for which they will be eternally grateful.

That's all.

There are of course other ways to stand out as an intern: taking creative risks, pitching innovative ideas, or simply honing your own flashy but work-appropriate style. No matter how you choose to do it, putting in this kind of above-and-beyond effort isn’t easy. But in many placements, you get what you give… or at the very least you’ll thank yourself later for the amazing references.


Emily Skublics

  • Emily Skublics - Writer

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