An internship isn't just about getting coffee and making copies—even if it's tasks like those that make up most of your responsibilities. Being an all-star intern can help you make long-lasting career connections, get great recommendations for future positions and teach you a lot about an industry.
It could also help you land a full-time job.
Taking a few key steps in the first month of your internship can help ensure that you're successful in your role. Here are six things career experts say every intern should do within the first month to be successful:
1. Make a great impression
"Just like the first two months of any job, an internship itself is a multi-month-long first impression," says Rich DiTieri, CEO of Startup Institute.
The entrepreneur has interned and worked in a variety of sectors, including healthcare, IT, and marketing strategy. Making a good impression, he says, matters to people.
"Start strong by showing your manager that you're excited, engaged, and serious," DiTieri says.
Besides dressing well, showing up early and staying eager, he says, ask your boss what he or she would like to see from you.
"It's a lot easier to win if you know the game you're playing!"
2. Ask questions, and carry a notebook
Don't be afraid to ask questions, and be sure to jot down notes.
You'll not only remember important things, you'll also signal an important message to your boss, says Margaret Buj, interview coach and career expert.
"Whenever you're in a meeting or shadowing someone, always takes notes," says Buj. "That way your boss will see that you're paying attention and are engaged from day one."
3. Set up coffee meetings with your co-workers
At some point, everyone needs to have coffee or lunch. Those key breaks are a great opportunity to get to know your boss and your co-workers better.
Liz Wessel, co-founder and CEO of WayUp, a website that helps college students and young professionals land internships, says every intern should set up individual coffee meetings with people on his or her team.
"Ask about their experience, as well as their vision for the company over the next few months," Wessel says, "then bring the conversation back to actionable ways that you can make an impact in your position."
By reaching out to your team, you'll be perceived as more likable and friendly, and that will make you more likely to get hired and promoted.
4. Offer to help on additional projects
Once you know your responsibilities and can complete them well, go the extra mile.
Aim to complete a few "nice-to-have" items, Wessel's term for projects your boss has mentioned in passing but hasn't had the time to do. If your boss has said, "Eventually we'll want to do this…" follow up on it and ask how you can help.
"This will impress your supervisor," she says. It sends a clear message that you're serious about your internship.
5. Don't leave at night without stopping by your boss' desk
At 5 p.m. it may be tempting to pack up and go, but stop by your manager's desk first.
"Don't just disappear at the end of the day," Buj says. "Ask your manager if there is anything else they need right now."
"If you're asked to complete some small task," she adds, "do it without rushing through it."
Your boss will appreciate that you're not simply at the internship to get your hours in.
6. Keep a record of what you accomplish
"Write down everything you accomplish at the end of your first week, and every week after that," Wessel says.
The simple trick won't just boost your self-confidence.
"Having a track record of the ways that you're contributing to the company will come in handy when you're ready to ask for a recommendation letter, or if you are thinking about joining the company full-time."
With this list of skills you learned and projects you accomplished, you'll be better prepared to help your manager write a great recommendation letter for you and vouch for yourself if there's opportunity for a full-time role.
Here's to a great start to your internship.