Making the Most of Your Summer Internship

Once you are set to begin your internship, how can you maximize your experience? Here are a few tips on how to make your internship the best it can be.

Before you arrive…

Goals and Expectations. It is helpful to begin your internship with a clear set of goals and expectations in mind. Re-evaluate your initial internship goals in light of the specific position you’ve been offered, as well as what you hope to contribute to the organization.

Background Knowledge. Before beginning your internship, try to ensure that you have a strong sense of your organization’s mission and how it works. Take the time to perform any additional background research on the organization and its industry.

While you’re there…

Professionalism. Make a point of demonstrating standards of professionalism throughout your internship experience. This not only ensures your effectiveness as an intern, but also demonstrates your commitment and dedication to the experience as well as your reliability as a valuable member of the organization.

Attitude. Maintaining a positive attitude is key to a successful internship experience. Be enthusiastic and do your best on every task you are assigned, even if at first it seems rather mundane and not as challenging as you might like. Demonstrating a cheerful and energetic attitude toward all of your work will prove impressive to your supervisors and potentially lead to more challenging tasks.

Initiative. Another way to facilitate an enriching experience is to be a proactive intern. There may be times when your supervisor does not have anything pressing for you to do. In such cases, offer to expand on a small project you have already been assigned, or suggest another project you think might benefit the organization.

Network. Introduce yourself and be friendly with colleagues and co-workers. Be curious about the people you work with, and ask questions about their specialty areas, interests, motivations for entering the field, and how they started out. You might indeed find a mentor willing to share experiences, perspectives, and offer career advice.

When it’s over…

Follow up. Follow up with an e-mail thank-you or a hand-written card in the mail to your supervisor. Stay in touch afterwards to maintain networking connections and good rapport for possible references and letters of recommendation. Remember that many organizations hire permanent employees from their intern pool.