1) The good kind
2) The bad kind
That is, you can take initiative on a project or assignment, give your supervisor what was more-or-less expected and thereby make them a fan of your work.
Or, you can take initiative, overstep your bounds while attempting to get to a completely different level… and accomplish something your supervisor didn’t expect (or maybe even want).
The opportunity of the former is always worth the risk of the latter, for a couple of reasons…
First, the potential positive you get from the pleasant surprise will almost always outweigh the potential negative. Think of it as “1 pleasant surprise = 3 negative ‘you went too far, intern!’ looks”.
Second, if your initiative makes you get too far ahead of your boss on a project, that is a situation almost ALWAYS fixable. If nothing else, one can just give everyone a couple days to catch up, see the potential of your work, and things are more than fine.
Third, it may be that – even if you overstep your bounds – it’s exactly what everybody needs to get the project and mission moving forward again. Even if, as an intern, you move faster than your boss wants or expects… that can actually be a good thing (for her and you).
Fourth, even if you get too far ahead – the simple knowledge your boss now understands that your heart is in the right place, that you give a damn – that your trying to achieve something great – may mean more than a “not what I asked for” moment.
So… push forward during your internship. Exceed expectations. Create surprise.
The reward is almost always worth the risk!Appearance
About the Author: Eric Woodard is the author of “Your Last Day of School: 56 Ways You Can Be A Great Intern and Turn Your Internship Into a Job”. He is also founder of GreatIntern.com, a site that teaches students to be successful during internships. Eric has created and managed internship programs for the White House and U.S. Senate and consulted with a variety of national non-profit clients to create and manage successful internship programs. Over the years Eric received zillions of thank you notes from interns, and has kept every single one. Follow Eric on Twitter!