What I Learned from my Summer Internship by Matt Hornell
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My son Matt just completed a summer internship with the Sherwin-Williams Company.  Though a requirement for his degree program at Indiana University, he found the experience to be a great learning experience, resulting in some tips he’s excited to share with others. 

My journey actually began long before summer started, when I got serious about looking for a potential internship.  I realized the importance of planning ahead and getting an early jump on finding an internship.  Waiting until spring puts you in a tough situation to find a place that is both credible and one you enjoy. Here’s what I learned from my experience.

Use your resources.  Take advantage of the resources and opportunities offered by your school. My college has a website that lists many different kinds of internships that pertain to my major. Also, check when your school offers career fairs.  These events are the best way to get a foot in the door with companies that are there solely to find eager students on a job hunt. Do your research on companies scheduled to be at these events so you can be prepared when you approach them.

Do your homework.  Once you secure an interview, it is extremely important to do your research on the companies with whom you’ll interview. Their first impression of your work ethic is how prepared you are for the interview. It is key to look at their website to get as much information on the company as possible. The popular website, www.glassdoor.com, is extremely useful as it gives sample questions that each company likes to ask in their interviews. Practice interviewing with a friend or relative before the interview to work out nerves and get you fully prepared. Show up looking like a professional – in appropriate attire and well-groomed.

Build Relationships. In regards to a successful internship, the most important thing is to build good relationships with your coworkers. Going into a work environment you enjoy can make all the difference, and will help build teamwork, which leads to a more efficient workforce.

Focus on what’s important.  To have a successful experience, focus on product knowledge and customer service. Put in as much work as you can studying your product knowledge. When dealing with a customer or client, if you aren’t confident in your product, there is no way the buyer will be confident enough to buy it. Knowing your product knowledge will make you a more efficient worker, and your colleagues will take notice. Making a buyer a repeat customer is vital for the company, which is why a combination of product knowledge and customer service is key. Treating each customer special is critical – a good experience when dealing with a company can mean all the difference for future sales.

Enjoy yourself. For most of us, this is our first experience in the corporate world.  If you can make your first experience a good one, you’ll create great memories with a company and develop the skills you need to succeed.

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