While this time of year resonates with college students and grads for internships, experienced workers may find themselves pursuing an internship as well to get hands-on experience and a foot in the door.
Lauren Berger, also known as the Intern Queen who landed 15 internships in four years, tells TIME there are several ways to make the most out of an internship. For starters, she says to know your rights. Considering a few companies have been sued over unpaid internships, you’ll need to know what’s legal and what’s not.
For instance, buzz words like “sales” or “commission” certainly raise red flags. If you’re an intern, you really shouldn’t work on projects that impact revenue.
Moving on, Berger emphasizes getting a mentor. How do you do this? Sounds pretty simple by asking the internship coordinator for permission to contact an executive internally. It’s essentially a quick meeting to simply ask the exec how he or she got started in the business, any mistakes they made early on, and how they would break in today if they were in the intern’s shoes.
The importance of the mentor is raised again as the internship comes to a close. Instead of asking point blank to have a job, the Intern Queen suggests asking for advice.
In the piece she explains, “I tell students to take the pressure off of thinking the internship will turn into a job. An internship doesn’t guarantee that you’ll work at the company afterwards. What you need to do is leverage your contacts and stay in touch with them.” Plus, an internship is a terrific way to get a referral and recommendation for future employment.