Making the most of your Internship

June 13, 2023
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By Allen Shen, Career Peer

Internships are a valuable way to gain relevant skills and knowledge and identify a potential career path you’re interested in. These programs offer a unique opportunity to experience a role, learn about an organization, and collaborate with a team for a summer or semester. Starting an internship can be an intimidating and overwhelming process. However, there are ways you can prepare before and during your internship to ensure you have an enriching and successful experience. Through my internship experiences, I’ve identified 6 key tips you should know to make the most of your internship.

Set Goals:

At the beginning of your internship, establish clear personal and professional goals you want to achieve during the program. Understanding what you want from an internship allows you to set a clear roadmap and prioritize projects or tasks that fulfill these goals. Feel free to work with your manager or team to brainstorm any goals you want to achieve. Examples of goals can include expanding your professional network, improving presentation skills, or learning more about the organization’s culture.

Get Connected:

During your internship, introduce yourself to your team and reach out to people in the organization. Asking to set up a quick introduction or grabbing coffee with someone is a great way to develop a meaningful connection. These relationships can be valuable for understanding different career paths or when applying for jobs in the future. Additionally, find a mentor in your organization, which can be your manager or supervisor, whom you can meet with regularly to discuss goals, ask questions, and explore opportunities.

Ask Questions:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout your internship. As an intern, your team and organization know you have limited knowledge coming into the program. Questions are a great way to learn more about the work environment, project details, and career paths. Internships are meant to be learning opportunities and you should feel encouraged to regularly ask questions. After asking a question, ensure you’ve noted any relevant information and thank the person for their time or response.

Seek Feedback:

Actively ask your team and manager for feedback about your performance and tasks. Although internships are a learning opportunity, negative feedback can occur and should never be a surprise. At the start of your internship, work with your manager to set weekly or monthly check-ins about your current progress in the program. These regular check-ins provide the opportunity to continually improve your performance and correct any mistakes before the mid-point or end of the internship.

Be Positive and Professional:

Whether it’s adjusting to a new environment, balancing work, or learning new skills, internships can be a challenging experience. However, maintaining professionalism and a positive attitude is crucial to making a meaningful impression on your manager and your team. Professionalism includes the attire you wear, how you present yourself, and practicing common courtesy when communicating. These things can seem simple but can have a drastic impact on how you and your work are perceived.

Reflect and Learn:

Ensure you are keeping track of your responsibilities and learnings through the internship to continuously reflect and improve. Taking time to evaluate where you’re performing well or where you need improvement can help you quickly gain necessary skills and knowledge. At the end of the internship, decide whether the experience is one you’d be interested in pursuing as a career or if you want to explore other opportunities. Having a running list of your responsibilities is also incredibly helpful for updating your resume with your experiences and achievements.

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