After spending many days tweaking your resume, filling out countless applications, practicing your responses for the most common interview questions, and meeting with potential employers, you officially made it. You secured your summer federal government internship (which is something to be proud of right now!).
However, your motivation shouldn’t stop there. An internship with the federal government is more than just a line on your resume – it’s an opportunity to gain valuable skills, to network with your peers, and to figure out what types of work interest you the most. An internship with the federal government is also a unique experience. Thousands of students across the country apply for positions each year and only the top candidates are chosen by the government. This leaves you with the chance to gain valuable experiences that will influence you throughout your career. To maximize this opportunity, you’ll want to follow these eight simple tips to get the most out of your internship.
1. Put on a friendly face
Over the first few days of work, take the initiative and say hello to your coworkers, whether it is introducing yourself by the water cooler or standing inside the elevator. By doing so, you’ll begin to understand who works in each department and who might be worth get-to-know more over the next few months. Speaking of which…
2. Do your research
Get up to speed on the biggest issues impacting your office. For example, if you’re working with the FBI, read up on current FBI issues. If you will work for a congressman or congresswoman, get up to speed on issues affecting their district and read reports from think tanks, the Congressional Budget Office, among others. Become informed on topics impacting your organization.
3. Set goals
Determine what you want to achieve during the span of your internship. Constantly review yourself and ensure that you are making progress on these goals. By doing so, you’ll keep yourself accountable and will allow you to evaluate where to spend your time.
4. Be organized
One of the easiest ways to be successful in your internship is being organized. This doesn’t just mean maintaining a clutter-free desk. Being organized also means properly arranging your notes and prioritizing tasks based on deadlines.
5. Be positive
Sometimes an internship may not be exactly what you hoped for, and that’s okay. Instead of feeling disappointed, use the time wisely and be the best intern you can be. Also, take solace in knowing you’ll walk away knowing what roles and opportunities you want and don’t want to pursue in your career. Sometimes an internship is the opportunity to see a job you don’t want to have. And that’s okay.
6. Seek opportunities
Make a point to work with people who are good leaders and mentors. Volunteer for projects that gives you exposure and chances to learn from them. Opportunities almost always will not fall in your lap so be sure to take the initiative and seek them out.
7. Be Humble
When you’re in the office, remember that you are there to help your coworkers – not to save or fix their perceived mistakes. There are many other talented people inside the government who likely share the same passion for the problems you’re trying to solve. Identify these people and work with them; they’ve most likely dedicated their careers to this challenge. Absorb what you can but don’t be afraid to also share your thoughts if they do ask.
8. Be yourself
Want to truly stand out from your peers? Be yourself. Honestly, it’s better to lean on your uniqueness than to blend in with the crowd. By doing so, you’ll be able to better showcase your talents, skills, and passions. Plus – you’ll have a better shot at being remembered by your coworkers.
Having an internship with the federal government and serving your country is one of the greatest opportunities to have in this stage of your career. Just remember: don’t waste a single day. You may never get another opportunity like this again.