MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR EXPERIENCEInternships extend what you've learned in the classroom and provide you with hands-on, real-world experience. To make the most of these experience, we suggest the following tips and hints so you can make the most of your internship experience.
STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS
You play a crucial part in ensuring the success of your internship. You must be prepared to be proactive and take initiative to ensure that it runs smoothly:
- Have a positive attitude and be enthusiastic about the internship. If things are slow, take the initiative, and volunteer for different tasks or other work.
- Be punctual and work for the required number of hours and schedule agreed upon by you and your supervisor.
- Notify the workplace of absences.
- Behave and dress appropriately for your workplace.
- If necessary, clarify responsibilities and expectations with your supervisor. Respect the confidentiality of the workplace, its clients, and its employees.
- Make a list of goals that you would like to accomplish during the internship, which will help guide you through the learning experience.
Internships are a terrific way to build contacts in your industry and add value to your resume. Make sure to:
- Make a positive impression on the people with whom you are working
- Build your network; once you have connected with those within your department, branch out and make connections with individuals (including other interns) outside your department or those in other roles. You can do this by asking for a meeting or talk over coffee, also called a career conversation. Be sure to prepare questions to ask ahead of time and to send thank-you notes after your conversations.
- Cultivate interpersonal networks. They will help you later!
NOT WHAT YOU EXPECTED?
So, your dream internship is not going as planned? Even so, try to use experience opportunity to your advantage:
- Remember that exposure to negative situations provides you with the opportunity to gain skills and to learn.
- Internships reveal whether you can adapt to and be comfortable with the work style requirements of a field, e.g. pace of work, productivity expectations, personality conflicts, politics, etc. When your internship is not what you expected, use this experience to seek opportunities that do fit with your expectations.
- Working with people outside of your peer group (age, ethnicity, education level, etc.), are critical in today’s work place.
- Discuss any problems with your supervisor or mentor and, if necessary, with your faculty sponsor or Career Services.
- If you do plan to leave the internship, be sure to clearly discuss your reasons for leaving in person. Always keep in mind that some industries are small. You don’t want to burn any bridges!
AFTER THE INTERNSHIP
- Reflecting on your internship: jot down your accomplishments so you don’t forget, and be sure to note the skills you have learned or developed (great for resumes and interview preparation).
- Following-up regularly with mentors and contacts. Keeping the relationship fresh keeps the doors of opportunity open. Be sure to send a thank-you note to those you worked with at your internship!
- Utilizing social media to stay connected, especially LinkedIn.
- Saving any relevant materials from the internship e.g. internship posting, evaluations, business cards, examples of the work you performed. Doing so will pay off later.
- Asking for the opportunity to contribute your time to the employer as a freelancer, another experience that can pay off.