An internship is supposed to be an extension of school-that's why many colleges offer credit for an internship. What do you do in an internship? Learn. How can you learn if you don't ask questions? Well, of course, you can just observe, but your experience will be so much deeper if you ask your boss the following ten questions.
1. What makes the difference between a good intern and a great intern? This is a variation on a theme of fellow Inc Contributor Alison Green's magic question. The answer can open your eyes to the things that will truly make a difference in your career.
2. What are three skills I need to improve? You don't need to be overwhelmed with your faults, so asking for what you need to improve could result in a huge list-mainly because you're new, so you have lots to learn. Asking for three things gives you a workable list of things to work with.
3. What class did you take that was the most helpful for your career? If you are doing this internship before graduation, you have time to adjust your schedule. Sometimes the most helpful classes aren't what you'd think. For instance, the constitutional law classes I took as an undergrad taught me great skills in logical thinking and writing. Super helpful to my career.
4. How did you recover from mistakes made early in your career? If your boss is a curmudgeonly type, who doesn't like to open up, skip this one. However, if your boss is at all close to normal, she made mistakes in her early career and how she recovered can help you not only avoid the same mistakes in the first place but recover from your own.
5. What's your favorite thing about your job? Find out the good parts of the career path you're on.
6. What's your least favorite thing about your job? No job is sunshine and roses all the time. Find out what challenges lie ahead. This will help you prepare for your future.
7. What things should I pay more attention to? There are important things in a job and unimportant things. Unfortunately, the differences between these two categories aren't always obvious. Asking your boss this question can help you identify what things really matter and what things don't. You may be surprised at the answer.
8. Am I a good fit for this type of career? You may have always wanted to be a banana inspector, but you may not have the temperament for it. Finding out now, while you're still in the internship phase of life is a blessing because you have time to make changes without experiencing too much heartache or career angst. It's easier to change early on than to have failed jobs you need to explain away.
9. What Can I Do to Make You More Successful Today? This question comes from The Muse's Lea Mcleod. Even as an intern, where your primary goal is to learn, you need to be looking toward's your boss's success. If you help your boss succeed, she'll help you succeed.
10. Am I fulfilling your expectations? When your boss chose you over numerous other candidates, she had clear expectations in mind. She may be great at communicating them, and she may be terrible at communicating them. Asking how you're doing withthem can open up a great dialogue between you. If you're meeting her expectations, fabulous. If you're not, it's best to know now so you can improve yourself before the internship ends. After the internship ends, it's too late.
Internships can be extremely valuable, so make sure you use your time there wisely.