Entering the world of internships can be absolutely terrifying- the applying and interviewing stages are stressful enough, and then you’re thrown into a new company with dozens of employees who typically seem much older, more experienced, and incredibly wiser than you are. You may feel a lot of pressure to be exceptional at your job, especially when your supervisor starts talking about how great the intern before you was.
Luckily, you don’t have to create a new customer management system or single-handedly sell 20 new cars per month to be a rock star intern (and don’t stress- your supervisor doesn’t expect you to!). You can, however, stand out from your peers and impress the entire dealership just by doing a couple of little things.
1. Dress for success
No matter what your office culture is or what you see others wearing, always put time and effort into looking professional at your internship. Aside from following the company’s dress code (which you obviously must do), take pride in the little things such as ironing your shirts and making sure your skirts aren’t too tight. And just because a manager walks in wearing jeans and a t-shirt doesn’t mean you should, too. One day when you’re a manager you may have that luxury, but right now you need to show everyone that you’re serious about this position. Putting effort into how you look shows your co-workers that you’re also willing to put effort into your work. Not to mention, you feel more confident when you’re dressed nicely versus when you look like you’re ready for bed and Netflix.
For a business casual office, I recommend wearing black pants and nice tops with a blazer or cardigan. If your internship is more casual, still dress a little nicer than everyone else. Skip the sneakers and flannels and instead opt for dark jeans, a cute top, and flats. Also, err on the side of conservative when it comes to hairstyles and makeup. Save that for the weekend.
2. Arrive on time (or even better, early!)
There are a few behaviors that speak to reliability and trustworthiness like punctuality. If you are contracted to work from 8:00 to 5:00 then be sure to be there 7:50 or earlier. If you can not manage to get to the office on time, how would your superiors and co-workers ever trust you to execute important tasks? It seems like common sense, but many young people don’t take their internship schedule seriously because they don’t feel like “real” employees because they aren’t getting paid, or getting paid very little. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Showing up when you’re supposed to, and earlier if possible, shows your supervisor and co-workers that you’re organized, reliable, punctual and serious about this internship. You don’t want to be known as the intern who is always late.
3. Manage Up and Learn
Forget about your fancy degree or tertiary education - the people that are training you have sold thousands of cars and understand the Automotive trade inside out. They have seen and heard it all. Look and learn. Imitate what works and for now, do as you are told. The experience these have is invaluable and when you are fortunate enough to have a good mentor in the motor sales space - suck all that knowledge and experience up like sponge. Remember your training - do you prospecting, make those calls, get those documents and always Manage up. That means, tell you mentor the good, the bad and the ugly – before they ask about or for it.
With some hard work and good habits, becoming an amazing intern will be easier than you think. Good luck with all your future internship endeavors.