Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Heading in to Internship Season: Make the Most of Your Opportunity

We’re heading in to internship season, and a blog from a colleague came across my desk this morning that I’d like to share with you. As internships can often be a path to full time employment, making the most of your internship opportunities will greatly benefit you.  Below is a segment from Rich Grant’s blog “RichCareer” (http://richcareer.net/internship/). Rich offers some great advice for students on how to make the most of your Internship opportunity.

Have a clear plan. Is your job description in writing? Has the organization provided you with a list of expectations? Are you confident that the organization will assign you with meaningful work? In most internships and full-time jobs, there’s a certain degree of “grunt work,” yet, you don’t want to spend your summer as a “copy and coffee” intern.
State your expectations. Talk with your boss about what you hope to gain from the internship. It’s important to assert yourself with confidence in a respectful way, and be realistic about what’s doable. Essentially, you want to convey the message that you want to be in a position where you can provide the greatest benefit to the organization, and in doing so, you will benefit from the exposure and experience.
Know what’s important to the organization. What do they measure? What are their goals? Try to align yourself with those goals. Keep your eyes and ears open for ad hoc projects that will give you an opportunity to contribute to the success of the organization.
Meet with your supervisor / mentor regularly. Hopefully, this will happen anyway, but if it’s not part of their plan, take the initiative to check in with your boss each week. Get his/her help in monitoring your progress. Make notes of your discussions.
Get final feedback. In the last week of the internship, touch base with the people you worked most closely with. Ask them to give you specific feedback about how your work made a difference to them. Connect with these individuals on LinkedIn, and make a commitment to stay in touch.
Seek help on your resume in September. While it’s still fresh in your mind, meet with your academic advisor and a career services advisor to debrief your internship experience and make note of all your accomplishments. The career services advisor should ask you the right questions to extract the meaningful nuggets.
Questions I would ask include, what are you most proud of, what did the supervisor say he/she was most pleased with, and what did you do that contributed to business goals? Regarding business goals, I ask specifics about metrics, but also ask questions such as, what did you do that made money, increased the customer base, improved customer satisfaction, improved a process, saved time, saved money, or made the organization a more attractive place to do business?
A meaningful internship experience will not only help you create a compelling resume, but it will give you some good specific examples to talk about during your next job interview. A lot has been written about how important internships are to students getting good jobs in their field. However, it’s not just the internship itself that is important, but the accomplishments that occur as a result of the experience.
– Rich Grant

Getting the Most Out of Your Internship

Twitter @RichCareer