Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Taking Initiative as an Intern

We all know that as an intern (or anyone starting out in a new position) one of the best ways to stand out in a group is to take initiative. It shows your supervisors that you actually care about the work that you are doing and take your work seriously enough that you won’t just sit around wasting your time when you are done with whatever task they have assigned you. Additional benefits of taking initiative at work include the chance that you may be given new projects that you have not experienced before, or perhaps will be exposed to new facets of the business that interns previously would not have been able to work on. In a world where the experience you bring under your belt weighs more than basically anything else, this is an invaluable way to increase what you can do while working in the same position.

In terms of actually asking for more to do, make sure you are concise, polite, and enthusiastic. For example, I try to always ask something more along the lines of “Hey ______, is there anything I can help you out with right now?” as opposed to just a standard “What should I do right now.” The first question makes it sound like you want to be there and are looking for new ways to learn and help out, while the second makes it sound like you are asking solely because you have to and it’s your job. Subtle differences in the manner in which you present yourself and ask questions can mean a world of difference in the attitude your supervisors view you with. I have personally found that being upbeat and having a positive attitude is like a breath of fresh air in the office – you motivate everyone else around you to do the same and approach new tasks with an enthused mindset.

This summer, no matter where you are working or interning, try your best to take initiative and do more for the firm you are at. Although it may be tiring, or even overwhelming at times when things get busy, it will help you stand out in the long run. Your boss will appreciate your willingness to contribute, so always take the extra step and pay it forward while on the job.