1. Go into your internship informed
If you haven’t already done so, do some research on the company you’re interning for. Find out more about their work ethic and their values to see how you can fit in best. Through your research, you may also find some projects that you’re interested in to later express to your employer.
2. Set goals for yourself
Since this is such a short time-period to have an internship, make sure to go in with an idea of what you want to learn, what you want to accomplish, and maybe have an idea of what your plans are after the internship. The best way to do this is to find your passion and think about what you are most interested in learning about. Once you figure this out, make sure to physically write your goals down. This will help keep you on your toes and recenter you if you ever feel yourself getting overwhelmed.
3. Ask questions
Asking questions will not only make you look more connected to the company, but it is also the best way to get the most out of your internship. Don’t ask questions just to ask them though; make sure that you are asking questions that are of use. By doing so, you express your interest in the work you are doing and the company itself. Being curious will also make you learn more than you would have if you did not become further involved.
4. Adopt an optimistic attitude
The intensity and short time-period of a winter term internship can sometimes make it feel demanding and draining. If this happens or the internship is not exactly what you had hoped for, pause and think about the aspects of your internship that you love the most. If you love your work, your performance will show it. In addition, think about what you can learn from the opportunity even if it isn’t the perfect match for you – what skills can you develop, what learning can you take with you, what insights have you gleaned? These tips can allow you to adopt an optimistic attitude and take full advantage of the experience.
5. Develop relationships
The network you build throughout your life will be one of the most helpful tools you’ll ever have. While you may doubt how necessary some of your connections are, it may surprise you how useful they will be to you. These contacts may end up writing letters of recommendation, offering advice on your future career, becoming a mentor, or simply being someone to talk to. Don’t be afraid to take the first step and introduce yourself! You never know if that person can be your future employer or your key into graduate school someday.
6. Organization is key
Make sure to keep track of your deadlines and the projects you have to complete. The worst thing you can do is make your supervisor doubt your abilities when you forget to turn in something because you mixed up the dates! Keep notes during meetings and in general to not forget anything of major importance; a great way to do this is by keeping a journal. Also, by being organized, you are much more likely to manage your time more wisely and enjoy the other exciting aspects of J-Term like skiing!
Take some time to reflect on the skills that you’ve gained and all that you’ve done, both during the internship and afterwards. Often after completing an internship, we tend to quickly seek the next experience. In doing so, we fail to acknowledge all that we’ve just finished accomplishing. Make sure to sit down after an internship and think of all you’ve learned so you can take those developed skills onto your next experience. As in the previous tip, you could also do this by keeping a journal of everything you think has been notable. Another important thing to do while you’re reflecting is to write down all of your responsibilities in your resume as it may be more difficult if you wait to include them until the next time you apply for something.
8. Take initiative
If you’ve finished a project you were assigned, it may be tempting to sit back and relax but try to fight this urge. It will make you a memorable and dependable intern if you show that you are motivated to take on more responsibility. Another aspect to taking initiative is sharing any ideas for improvement that you may have. Don’t be afraid to speak up! Your employer will likely see this as you wanting to get more involved in the organization, which may help you in obtaining an employment offer or further developing your relationship with the employer.
9. Be your own advocate
Being a student causes us to place pressures on ourselves to turn in everything on time and never make a mistake, however, we are still human. If you are feeling overwhelmed with all that you are tasked with, explain your situation to your employer. Communication is key in any internship or job! Your supervisors want you to do the best work that you can, and if you are rushing to finish a project, it will show.
10. Be professional
Treat this internship like it is a month-long interview for your dream job. When you begin to think of it this way, dressing professionally, being punctual, and having proper etiquette all tend to come naturally. Whether your internship is in-person or virtual, all of these are still extremely applicable. You should make sure to abide by dress codes and dress for the role you want, always show up slightly early and if you are late, make sure to communicate this with your employer.
The author of this article, Cindy Cardona ’22, is a Biology major and Sociology minor who will be attending veterinary school after graduation. Cindy is a Peer Career Advisor at the Center for Careers and Internships.