Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

10 Tips for Making the Most of your Summer Internship

Congratulations on completing your finals!  Now it’s time to think about your upcoming Summer Internship.  Here are some tips for making the most of your internship experience.

  1. Set Goals for your Internship. Think about what you would like to learn from this internship experience.  Do you want to figure out if this is a function or industry that you would like to work in?  Do you want to learn a new skill or technology?  Knowing what you want from the experience or internship ahead of time will help you achieve it.
  2. Be a Sponge.  Soak up all the information you can.  Take advantage of any training opportunities, conferences or meetings. Be proactive and volunteer for projects in a variety of areas.
  3. Understand the office norms and culture.  Observe how others in the office act and mirror that.  Do employees go out for lunch or eat at their desk?  Do team members arrive early for work or stay later?  Is e-mail the preferred form of communication among your team members?
  4. Have a positive attitude.  Willingly take on any size task  assigned to you.  When you excel at even the basic responsibilities, more opportunities may arise.
  5. Take your work seriously and be professional.  Take responsibility for your work, including any mistakes that you may make.  Make sure to review your work before submitting.  Quality of your work product is usually more important than quantity so pay attention to detail.  Also, keep in mind that an internship is like an extended job interview.  How you conduct yourself after work hours during company social events and the information you share about yourself can leave an impression.
  6. Stay Focused. Don’t use social networking sites (unless it’s part of your job) or text with friends throughout the workday. You may be confident that it doesn’t affect your work, but experienced managers may think otherwise. Remember that the internship is an extended job interview and your manager’s opinion matters most.
  7. Build relationships with employees throughout the company, not only those interns in your department.  Co-workers who are more tenured are better positioned to provide advice and potentially help you with your career.  Make time for informational interviews and get advice about your career path.  This will help you get to know the company better while building your own personal network.
  8. Ask for feedback.  Set up a regular meeting with your supervisor to review your performance and ask what you can be doing better. Regular meetings will give you a forum to discuss your goals and objectives as wells as any concerns that may arise.  Once you have the feedback, use it.
  9. Thank people who help you. If your supervisor or another co-worker takes the time to help you, give them a sincere thank you. People who feel appreciated are more likely to go out of their way for you again.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!