So, you’ve finally landed a summer internship, congratulations! Here are some tips to help you make the most of this great opportunity.
Define your Goals – Before you start your summer internship, one of the best things you can do is take some time to identify the skills you are interested in honing. These do not necessarily need to be related to your field of study. Maybe you are a chemistry major and want to get some experience with social media marketing. Whatever the case, having a basic outline of what you are hoping to learn will absolutely help you recognize opportunities when they present themselves.
Clarify Professional Expectations Beforehand – Some internships are rigidly structured, while others are not. Either way, you should take some time before the internship begins to clarify the kind of work you will be doing, how much autonomy or supervision you will have, and what the supervisory structure of the organization is like. Whether all your expectations are met or not, having this information will ensure that both you and your supervisor are on the same page.
Great First Impression – Consider your entire internship, your “first impression.” Remember, the goal of your internship is to gain, not only skills but professional credibility (references, LinkedIn endorsements, etc.). Therefore, you should always adopt, at a minimum, basic professional etiquette (i.e. punctuality, professional appearance, and a neat workspace, etc.). Don’t forget to be mindful of your mobile habits; spending all day on your phone won’t help you make a good first impression.
Develop New and Existing Skills – Before you begin an internship, you should put some thought into what skills you are looking to gain so you can keep an eye out for opportune projects. Spend some time thinking about different ways you can step out of your comfort zone to ensure you get a rich internship experience.
Reflect – Keeping a general record of the work you did will be useful when you are adding your experience to your resume. Furthermore, the act of reflection can help you understand how different pieces of your internship could factor into your future career.
Build Relationships – A big part of the internship experience is building relationships and a network in the field you are hoping to go into. A great way to get 1-1 time with your coworkers is by inviting them out to coffee or lunch.
Build a Portfolio – Ask your supervisor if you can take a copy of some of the work you completed in your internship so you can build a portfolio. This is a great way to show future employers how you’ve grown in your career.
Pitch New Project Ideas – If you don’t have as much work as you hoped you would have, see if you can complete projects for your coworkers. Any experience is a good experience.
Keep in Touch – After your internship is done, keep in touch with the people that you worked with. This doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal, sending an email every 6 months is a great place to