Making the Most of an Internship Experience

Check out these videos of professionals offering advice about how to make the most of any internship experience!
Would you like to move from intern to employee?  Watch some of these videos with advice about how to be taken seriously and move from Internship to Job!

Have realistic expectations …

Expect uncertainty. 

When you are being trained, lots of new information is being thrown at you as you and it may seem a little overwhelming.

  • TIP: Carry a notebook/paper with you at all times to jot down people’s names, their jobs, instructions, anything you could forget. 

Expect some slow time. 

As you start your internship, you may be given smaller, less interesting tasks to help get your feet wet.  You may complete projects faster than your supervisor expects. If this happens and your supervisor is not available, use your time wisely.

  • TIP: Fill time by reading as much as you can about the industry, the organization, the career field. Find out who else you can offer assistance to when you have nothing to do. Be self-motivated and see other things to do—be creative! 

Expect good challenges. 

Once you are up to speed, your supervisor will begin to give you more responsibility.  Don’t be surprised when you are given tasks with increasing independence.

  • TIP: Make sure you are clear about the details of each task, the supervisor’s expectations, and any deadlines. Practice good time management! Ask questions. 

Maximize your learning

Ask ‘Why?’  

  • Make sure you understand the overall functions of your area and how your individual responsibilities fit into the bigger picture of the operation.  Ask, what is the purpose of this task? Understand the ultimate outcome of your work. 

Ask for More.  

  • More responsibility if and when you are ready for it. 
  • More information. (E.g. can your supervisor recommend a professional publication/journal on that industry or field?)
  • More contacts. (E.g. conduct informational interviews with professionals in the organization.)

Be Observant. 

  • What are the communication channels like? Flat? Hierarchical? 
  • Who has the power? Why do they have the power? 
  • How do customers/clients perceive the organization? 
  • How are decisions made? 
  • Is the atmosphere relaxed? Frenetic? Pressure-filled? Fun? 
  • Do staff laugh and have a good time while being productive? 
  • Are there support systems, like affinity groups, for staff? 

Check in with yourself. 

  • As you observe what the people and culture are like, check in with yourself. How does all of this feel to you? Comfortable?  Not a good fit?

 

The ultimate desired outcome of any internship is for you to decide if you enjoyed the work, and if you meshed well with that kind of work environment.  This information will help guide you in your future job search!