Make the Most of Your Internship

Take active measures to ensure a meaningful and impactful experience for yourself.

Make the Most of Your Internship

Take Advantage

You’ve learned internships can impact your skills, knowledge, and view of work. Now, it’s time to crack down on how to take the initiative in the growth you experience during your internship.

Keep Reading to Learn:

  • Tips on how to best prepare for the new information you will be learning
  • How to spend time in between projects
  • Network within the organization
  • Maintain a professional connection with your supervisor and other contacts

Be In Control

Take It In

During the training period, new information is thrown at you and it may seem a little overwhelming.

  • It’s okay to not know what you’re doing right away – you’re there to learn!
  • If something isn’t clear, be sure to ask your supervisor for guidance.

TIP: Carry a notebook/paper with you at all times to jot down people’s names, their jobs, instructions, anything you could forget.

Step Up

You may complete projects faster than your supervisor expects.

  • If this happens and your supervisor is not available, use your time wisely and try to stand out.

TIP: Fill time by reading as much as you can about the industry, the organization, the career field. The more expertise you can gain in the field, the more you will stand out.

TIP: Show your employer you take initiative and are self-motivated by finding other things to do. Ask other professionals in your team or department if they have small tasks they need help with.

Manage Your Time

Once you are up to speed, your supervisor will begin to give you more responsibility.

  • Don’t be surprised when you are given tasks with increasing independence.

TIP: Make sure you are clear about the details of each task, the supervisor’s expectations, and any deadlines. Practice good time management! Ask questions and schedule check-ins for projects BEFORE completion in case your supervisor wants you to take them in another direction.

Maximize Your Learning & Networking

Ask “Why”

Make sure you understand the overall functions of your area and how your individual responsibilities fit into the bigger picture of the operation. Ask questions that will help you understand the outcome of your work.

Ask for More

  • More responsibility if and when you are ready for it.
  • More information. (E.g. can your supervisor recommend a professional publication/journal on that industry or field?)
  • More contacts. (E.g. conduct informational interviews with professionals in the organization.)

Be Observant

  • What are the communication channels like? Flat? Hierarchical? Who has the power? Why do they have the power?
  • How do customers/clients perceive the organization? How are decisions made?
  • Is the atmosphere relaxed? Frenetic? Pressure-filled? Fun? Do staff laugh and have a good time while being productive? Are there support systems, like affinity groups, for staff?

Check in with Yourself

As you observe what the people and culture are like, check-in with yourself. How does all of this feel to you? Comfortable? Not a good fit?

Wrapping Up the Internship

Be sure to request a final review meeting with your supervisor. Learn from the experience as much as you can; feedback is invaluable.

Ask for specifics, “to what extent did I demonstrate skills x, y, and z? What contributions do you think I made? Areas I need to work on?”

Also, ask if you can provide feedback on the internship experience. What did you learn? What did you value? Areas for development?

If you want to work with that employer or in that type of job after graduation, tell them you are interested.

If there are no openings, ensure that you stay in touch. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals to other, similar organizations that may be hiring.

Always ask your supervisor if they’d be willing to act as a reference for you in your job search. “Would you feel comfortable if I listed you as one of my references for future job applications?”

For future networking, consider asking your coworkers and supervisor if it would be ok if you sent them a connection request on LinkedIn.

Finally, always send a thank-you note to your supervisor(s) and consider sending it to teammates who helped you be successful in your time with the organization!

Next Steps

  • Reflect on the content provided and plan how you can begin integrating these actions into your practice
  • Process with the Career Development Center to provide examples on areas you still have questions