Internships can be crucial in developing new skills, understanding the world of work and securing a full-time position in the future. They allow you to “test drive” opportunities to find a position that's a good fit for you. Here are six ways to make the most of your experience and impress your employer this summer.
Communicate efficiently and effectively
As we continue to navigate life during a pandemic, internships this summer will be different from any year in recent memory. Many internships and jobs have moved to remote settings and others will involve limited in-person staff interaction.
With these changes, it’s important to communicate efficiently and effectively with your supervisor and co-workers. Make sure to respond to emails and other forms of communication in a timely manner (preferably the same day or within 24 hours). Be professional in your responses, but allow some of your personality to show as well. Pay attention to how others communicate at your company, and mirror the ones who are able to balance professionalism and personal touches.
Get to know your co-workers
Just because you’re remote or following social distancing guidelines doesn’t mean you can’t get to know your co-workers and fellow interns. Check with your supervisor to learn about ways you can interact with your new colleagues. That might include short video calls to introduce yourself, or opening up a chat thread where you can communicate with your team. You might even want to organize a coffee break or lunch by video conference.
Regardless of the format, an internship is a great way to learn from others and their work experiences. Find out more about their career paths and what they do in their roles, and ask for advice on your own career options.
Be a go-getter
Taking initiative is a skill that many employers desire in their employees. Focus on how you can excel at tasks that are within your abilities. This includes
- Managing and completing tasks before deadlines
- Volunteering to take on extra work
- Seeking answers before asking your supervisor
- Proposing a project idea to your supervisor
It is especially important to be self-motivated, efficient and hard working in a remote setting where it can be challenging for supervisors to see the effort you put in.
Ask for feedback
While employers don’t expect perfection from interns, they do want to see that you’re learning and improving. Use your internship as an opportunity to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Check in with your supervisor throughout your internship to assess your progress. Ask questions such as, “What can I be doing better?” or “Is there anything else I should be doing?” Listen to their feedback and look for ways to improve.
You might make mistakes and that’s OK. In fact, it may be expected when you start a new job. Owning your mistakes and talking through possible solutions can help you develop as a professional.
Keep in touch
The connections you make this summer can help you build a strong professional network. You never know who might have a great job opening or piece of advice in the future. Stay connected with those you meet during your internship by adding them on LinkedIn. Before your last day, write a sincere and personal thank you note to those who influenced your experience. Gestures like this can make a lasting impression on the people around you. It shows you valued your time with them and everything you learned.
Reflect on your experience
Take some time at the end of your internship for reflection. Did you like the work you did and the work environment? Did it provide direction for your future or eliminate a career path or role you thought you were interested in? Keep track of the projects you worked on and reflect on them as well. Make note of what you learned and how it might influence your future options.
Internships can be great launch pads for your career. Taking these steps, as well as demonstrating your professionalism and willingness to learn, can help you at any organization.
For more tips on making the most of your internship this summer, meet with a career development advisor. Career Services is open for virtual visits via Zoom, phone or LiveChat on the Career Services website Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn more about virtual appointments and drop-in hours.