Internships are a great way to find a job after college. A good internship can lead to references and work experience, but a bad internship can lead to spending a semester sorting paper clips. Follow these six tips to make sure you get the most from your internship instead of wasting your time with office supplies.

1.  Be interested.

Even if you’re bored out of your mind, you need to find an aspect of your job that is interesting. Maybe you have a really smart boss, or maybe you get to sit in on meetings about a cool project–or maybe it’s just you get to leave early on Fridays. Find something that you like and focus on it. This will make you excited to go to work, and you will be better at your job.

If you can’t find anything, then at least act interested. Your internship great place to learn to “fake it, until you make it.” Also, this means, you’ll have to stay away from distractions, like social media. Unless social media is part of your internship, using it will make you look disinterested at best, or lazy at worst.

2.  Make friends.

You’ve heard it before, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” An internship is your chance to make personal connections in your field, so use that great personality to win over everyone–from the administrative assistant to the boss. You never know who you will need to ask for a reference, so make sure you remember to smile and ask people questions about themselves. These are the two quickest ways to make friends.

3.  Master your job.

The quicker you master your internship duties, the quicker you will be given more responsibility. This means, you will want to master your job fast. How do you do this? First, listen to instructions. Second, jump in and start doing. Third, and most important, ask questions. The only way you’ll get the job done right is to know exactly what you are doing. So, ask questions. About five questions in, you’ll feel like you’re annoying the pants off people. Just remember, the most annoying interns are the ones who don’t do anything, and no one will be able to say that about you.

4. Don’t be afraid to fail.

You’re going to mess something up. Don’t worry, internships are a great place to fail. Your bosses won’t have a lot of expectations for you yet, so if someone asks for your help, just do it. You maybe successful, which could lead to more responsibility. If you fail, it’s okay, you’re just an intern. The only people who don’t fail are people who don’t take any initiative.

5.  Make an impact (even if it’s tiny).

Even if you’re spending your days scraping gum off the bottom of shoes, you can bring ideas on how to organize or improve the process. Once you’ve built some rapport with your boss, then casually drop your ideas. This will be killer for your resume, because you will be able to show future employers you’ve improved company processes and you take initiative.

6.  Look for openings.

The goal of an internship is to find a job. An internship is a great place to do some “insider research.” First, find out how most people get into the company. This includes which positions are entry level and which positions turn over the most. If you want one of those, then talk to the manager and try to learn some of the job duties while you’re doing your internship. This will put you above the competition because you have already been trained–even if it’s just a little.

So, be brave. Follow these six tips to rock you internship. You’re going to do great and land a job–while other graduates are still sending out hundreds of resumes.

Need help with interview skills? Ten Questions to Ask in an Interview to Get Hired

Featured photo credit: Young business people signing application form via Shutterstock

Love this article?