Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Internships: Getting the most out of your three months

Last week, we explored choosing an internship that’s right for you. Now let’s skip forward to your first day of your three-month (or one-semester or however long) gig.

The most important thing to remember about any internship is that you’re there to learn. You might go in with an idea of what you’ll be learning, but keep an open mind. Some more tips to get the most out of your time:
  • Observe. The professional world is very different from the academic environment, so you’ll encounter a lot of unfamiliar situations. There is a lot you can learn just by watching those around you, not just how they do their jobs and the tasks you’re interested in, but also the general professional atmosphere of the company and industry. Pay close attention to how people communicate and work together to help you build your soft skills, too. Make a mental note of what you like or don’t like about the workplace (Is it collaborative or competitive? Supportive or toxic?). 
  • Ask questions. Remember, you’re there to learn, so if you have a question, speak up and ask! It could be about something technical or it could be about something more strategic. This is also a great way to build a mentor-mentee relationship with your supervisor and find out more about other perspectives. If you’re shy in a group, maybe schedule some time with your boss to ask questions in a one-on-one setting. 
  • Volunteer. One of the best ways to learn is to do, so get in there! Volunteer for every opportunity you possibly can, from working events to tagging along to meetings (even if it’s just to run the PowerPoint). This is by far the best way to get exposure to the wider industry that you’re interested in and try out new experiences. 
  • Act like a regular employee. Even if they’re not paying you, you should take your position seriously and treat it like a job. Be punctual, reliable, and professional. Get to know those in your department or desired industry (starting with your boss). When it’s in the budget, companies have gone to great lengths to find a full-time position to keep a great intern. Even if you don’t stay with that company, you want to foster a good working relationship for future recommendations and networking.
Long story short, you get what you give when it comes to internships. So put your best foot forward and take every opportunity with a smile on your face, and you’ll reap the benefits for years to come, in the form of great recommendations, industry contacts, and even job offers.

Originally posted on Memoranda


  1. These are some great tips I wish someone had given me when I was in that stage.
    I do agree with all of them, specially volunteer - this sets you apart and you get to learn other things that you do not know when could come in handy.

  2. @ Lorena - Don't we all?! I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started interning, either, and the first internship or two really snapped me into shape. But sometimes you have to live it to learn it, right?

  3. Being an intern is very responsible. It is the most important period in the life of a person who starts a career. This is the time to gain experience and learn new lessons. This us the time start finding out about the NYC Resume Services for your future benefit.


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