Turning your mortarboard tassel at college graduation symbolizes the end of one phase of your education and the beginning of another, probably more important phase: entering the workforce. Internships are a great way to ease into the professional world and avoid the feeling of being dropped into the deep end after graduation. The benefits of an internship are extensive – from networking and career development to gaining relevant experience and building your portfolio. A 2018 National Association of Colleges and Employers survey found that with the completion of one internship, students received more timely job offers with higher starting salaries. Already scored an internship or on the hunt for the perfect one? Here are our top tips for making the most out of your experience:

Know your priorities before your internship

After the applications are submitted, interviews are done and you’ve accepted an internship, your excitement can mask the fact that the most important part is still to come – the work! It doesn’t have to be hard work, but before starting your internship you should take 30 minutes to write down what you want to get out of your internship. Whether it’s your first internship or your fifth, having a clear idea of what you’d like to accomplish going into your first day will help you and your supervisors in shaping the direction of your internship experience.

Have an open mind

You should go into an internship with an open mind and a positive attitude. Embracing those two things will either make or break you. One of the most debilitating mindsets can be, “It’s not what I expected.” An internship may not be exactly what you wanted. You may be doing different tasks than expected, and that’s okay. Your supervisor wants you to learn, so odds are that whatever they’re giving you is meant to help you do just that.

However, it’s also important to speak up! If you have specific things you want to do, don’t be afraid to let your supervisor know. Although it can be intimidating, speaking up will show initiative and a desire to learn that will enable you to take advantage of all your internship has to offer.

Use it as an opportunity to network

Take advantage of being surrounded by professionals in your desired industry and ask them questions. Your internship is an awesome time to make connections with people in the field you’re trying to enter. The relationships you make will be beneficial while you are building your career. As you go through your internship, set a goal to talk to each person in the office or department. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation (a water-cooler exchange counts), but make yourself known for your hard work and your genuine interest in learning. Don’t forget to connect with them on LinkedIn so you can maintain these connections beyond your internship.

Internships are quickly morphing from suggested ventures to curriculum and hiring requirements. So if you’re going to complete one, make the most of it! Already have a few internships under your belt and ready to take the leap to full-time? Check out our careers page to see if there’s an opportunity for you.