There are many ways to demonstrate initiative throughout an internship or graduate programme. Many of these you pick up along the way, but we thought we would set out some examples here to help you impress from day one.
Presenting your research
If you have been asked to carry out a task for a client, you could send your supervisor or manager a draft email addressed to the client summarising your research. This will save your supervisor time, demonstrate that you have thought about the purpose of your research and evidence that you are able to tailor your writing to the intended recipient.
If you are providing a long/detailed piece of research, considering whether it is appropriate to set out your sources in a document in case your supervisor/manager later wants to refer back to these.
Asking questions/requesting information
Before asking a question, always consider whether there is any way that you could find out the information yourself. When asking your supervisor questions, if you are able to demonstrate that you have already had a go yourself (perhaps by explaining the methods you have followed), this can leave a much better impression.
If you are unable to find the answer to a particular question, always explain which sources you have checked and try to give a view based on what you have read (explaining that you have not found a definitive answer).
If you need to request further information from the client, you can show real initiative by drafting an email to the client containing the relevant requests for information and sending this to your supervisor to forward on (especially if you have not been asked to do so).
Where possible, phrase questions so they have “Yes/No” answers, as this will save your supervisor time.
When sending emails, always use a helpful subject line. This way, both you and the recipients are more likely to be able to find the relevant email in the future if you or they need to reference the particular content.
Emails should be well-structured and not too long, unless you have been told to set out a more detailed piece of work in an email. Always consider whether your supervisor is likely to read your email on their mobile phone; if so, an essay won’t be appropriate.
Use headings/bullet points where necessary, as this can make it easier to take in the information on a quick skim. You can always use the main body of the email to provide a summary and attach a document containing more detailed information.
If you are not automatically invited to meetings/sit in on calls, ask your supervisor if you can attend/listen in.
Do background reading when possible to gain an insight into/understand the context of the relevant industry/client/work. This could help you form the basis of initial questions for your supervisor, which could help to demonstrate your interest in the work from day one.
Read all emails that you have been cc’d into, as this will help you keep on top of developments. There may also be a discrete task for you buried somewhere in there, so don’t risk missing it.
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