Once you’ve found an internship, you’ve taken a huge step towards positioning yourself for a future career. However, simply having an internship under your belt doesn’t guarantee future career success.

What you get out of your internship is far more important. Internships provide many opportunities that can’t be found through any other avenue; it is critical that you take advantage of everything that they have to offer.

These are some of the things that you can do in your short time as an intern to make sure you are maximizing the benefits from your experience going forward.

Read: 5 Simple Steps to Score an Awesome Internship

1) Be the Best Version of Yourself

Starting an internship can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never been in that specific type of environment before. Make sure to calm your nerves and display your best attitude. Embrace any opportunity you are given.

“Displaying your best attitude goes a long, long way.”

Be professional, friendly, respectful, and energetic. Show up on time (early if you can) and do not be the first one to leave. Allow your attitude to display your excitement for having this awesome opportunity. Trust me, displaying your best attitude goes a long, long way.

2) Be a sponge

An internship is a huge learning experience. Take advantage! The exposure you get to an organization is much different than the traditional knowledge you get in the classroom. Compare what you’ve been learning in class to the things that are being done around you. If you’re lucky enough to be able to apply technical knowledge to your tasks as in intern, note the differences between your classroom and internship experiences.

Also note of the people around you and how they approach their jobs. Pick up on the soft skills that are important to that particular career field and make it a priority to practice and strengthen those skills.

Remember you are an intern; you are expected to ask questions! Asking questions will make you seem engaged and focused. Just make sure you are careful not to overdo it.

3) Go Above and Beyond

While not all internships provide the most thrilling work, they all give you the opportunity to stand out. It is your job to make a good impression on the organization regardless of the tasks you are given.

"It's your job to make a good impression."

Doing quality and timely work is critical but if you are able, try to get involved in other areas. Offer your help to coworkers whenever you have some downtime or make suggestions on processes you think can be improved. Volunteer to take on tasks that might seem out of your comfort zone.

These are all opportunities for personal development and to display your interest.

4) Build Your Network

It’s not often you have such easy access to professionals in the career field of your interest. Use this time to try and build connections that will last beyond your internship period.

Most professionals you work with will be happy to share a bit about their role with the organization or give you advice. It may turn out that the person you go to for help at your internship will become a mentor that provides guidance once you are starting your career.

Read: Why You Can’t Live Without Schmooze

5) Ask for Feedback

Once your internship is nearing the end of its course, make certain to request feedback from your managers or coworkers. An honest assessment of how you performed during the internship period can be essential for your development going forward. Make it a priority to focus on improving in areas that might not have been your strength.

Internships are one of the absolute best ways to position yourself towards a career at the end of graduation.

They won’t always lead directly to a job within the same organization, but maximizing the value from the experience can provide unparalleled benefits.

One Final Note

Remember that as much as you plan ahead, things don’t always work out the way you want. Make sure that you’re always ready to embrace unexpected opportunities that might arise even if they make you a little nervous.

Take advantage of everything that internships have to offer so that once you step off the graduation stage you can step right into your new exciting career.

What do you do at your internship to stand out? Let me know in the comments.

Authored by Carlos Garcia

Carlos studied as an American Honors student at Ivy Tech Community College before transferring to Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He writes about career preparation, internships, and succeeding at college.