Some decisions are difficult to make. For students, one of the biggest decisions is which career to pursue. The options seem endless, each with its own education path, daily activities, and lifestyle. How do students choose between two vastly different fields? To ensure students are in a knowledgeable position when making this decision, it is important that they dedicate enough time on exploring various career opportunities. An internship is a fantastic way to gain more exposure to a field or career while having the flexibility to try different jobs.

The following are five key tips to get the most out of your summer internship and better prepare you to make this challenging life decision:

1) Stay focused

Often times, people underestimate the value of work that appears very straightforward or repetitive. While some junior level internships have a heavier workload and more difficult projects, most internships start with basic foundations and slowly progress in skill level and scope. Regardless of the task, you are expected to complete them to the best of your ability. Staying focused on your tasks demonstrates to your colleagues and supervisor that you care about the company and the work it does. Your dedication and hard work will pay off in the future as you gain more experience, build your reputation, and take on more challenging work.

2) Take initiative.

This involves going beyond what is expected of you. If you got assigned to research one topic, take initiative and look into a related subject area or add more depth to your thoughts. Initiative not only helps your team move forward faster, but also allows you to challenge yourself and learn more from the experience. People will also recognize your effort and see you as a reliable person.

3) Talk to as many people as you can.

As you gradually become more familiar with your work environment, you will likely form habits, including who you interact with. Without realizing it, your social circle has become defined and will not change drastically during the rest of your internship. Instead of falling into old habits and doing what feels comfortable, practice talking to a wider network of people comprised of a mix of new and familiar faces. You might learn something you never thought you would. Additionally, by connecting to more people in the office, you will become more integrated in the team and get a better idea of the company’s culture. One great way to introduce yourself and learn more about another person is through a coffee chat!

4) Develop a positive attitude.

No one enjoys being around a chronic pessimist. Negativity has the power to disrupt group dynamics and even hinder performance. Instead, try to adopt a positive outlook. Not only will people enjoy working with you, you will also feel more positive about yourself.

5) Demonstrate appreciation.

Throughout your internship, you have interacted with numerous people. Whether it’s learning about a new project or asking how to use the printer, your colleagues have played an integral part in your experience. At the end of your internship, make sure to take the time to thank all the people you have worked with. A good way to keep in touch with your professional network is to reach out once in a while. First, decide how often you want to stay in contact. For some contacts, you may want to reach out every month. For others, once a year is enough to maintain your relationship. Second, think about how you can add value to your relationships. This includes the content of your interactions. Some ideas include sharing interesting articles or books, congratulating their accomplishments, and sharing your own special milestones. Third, plan out how you will stay in touch, including over email, phone, or in-person.

These are five tips to help you create a meaningful internship. The key is to keep your professional self in mind at work while learning as much as possible. Hopefully your experience will provide valuable guidance to aid your life decisions.