1.) Don’t just ask if there is anything else you can do. Find something to do. (Without overstepping your boundaries.) It’s super great if you want to do more, it’s not super great if you think you can do your boss’ job better than them (spoiler alert: you can’t). When you’re done for the day as an intern you probably ask, with sincerity and enthusiasm, “Do you need for anything else?” To this your intern manager shrugs and says, “There’s nothing I can think of.” While it’s OK to take your manager’s word for it, the next level intern will find something to do that their big boss hasn’t thought of yet. No, that doesn’t mean going out and writing that fashion feature so they don’t have to. It means thinking ahead.
If you know your editors are planning for an article on the best college fashion programs, then come in with the assist: do a little research. Pull some stats, lists and data in your free time with a quick note, “Heard you were working on this and thought it would be helpful!” Whether or not they actually use the info is irrelevant to them noticing that you made the effort and want to be a part of the team. All internships aren’t editorial, of course. If you have a coffee-getting internship then know your bosses order! If tasks are offered, always be the first to volunteer.
2.) Chat up employees. (When it’s appropriate.) It’s easy to rely on the relationship you have with your intern manager but I’ve seen interns snag jobs by impressing the employees outside the realm of the internship. I didn’t exactly do this as an intern but I wish I did. When you’ve got the people who work there telling your intern supervisor, “Hey that intern of yours is so funny, is so helpful, seems cool,” then that manager is going to take notice. Don’t run up on the pros, say hello at the water cooler, if they need an extra pair of hands be those hands and shoot them an email asking them a few questions about their job. For example, “I love interning in X department but I’d like to know more about what your job in Y department.”
3.) Ask for feedback. An intern who asks for feedback tells me they aren’t carelessly doing the job. Your supervisor may think you’re the crappiest intern on the planet but if you ask them for an evaluation or feedback a quarter or a third through the internship it could change everything. The truth is you could be doing a bad job and not even know it. That manager of yours may be great at her job that doesn’t mean she is a great communicator. On top of that you two guys don’t know each other and she may not be privy to the most effective way you learn and communicate. Asking how you’re doing shows that you care how you’re doing which is a big deal. It shows that you’re not only doing this for the credit or resume highlight, that you’re invested in the work and in yourself. It also gives you the opportunity to turn things around if you weren’t at your A game. There are a million brownie points for the person who takes direction well and can handle constructive criticism.