How to Develop Goals for Your Internship

Learning and Earning

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We all get caught up in the race to land an internship. Before we start the application process, we typically understand the importance of an internship. We know it will get us real-world experience, help build our resume, introduce us to professional contacts, and make us more competitive candidates for the job market. Often, people get so swept in the internship application process that they forget why they wanted an internship in the first place. Below are some ways to make sure that you create goals for yourself within the internship position and leave the opportunity feeling like you accomplished what you set out to do.

Think About Why You Wanted the Internship

Yes, there are several reasons why we all want to intern. But if you’ve already done a lot of internships, your reason might not be as a resume builder. If you’ve already decided on your career path, you may not be doing an internship to experiment with different careers. It’s important to establish your reason for doing the internship. For example, perhaps you are torn between two different types of jobs; event planning and publicity. You are interning in the publicity space to see if it’s a field you truly enjoy.

Is There a Specific Skill You Want to Gain?

Is there one particular skill that you were hoping to gain from this internship? For example, if you are doing the publicity internship, perhaps you want to learn how to write press releases or cold-call the media. These specific skills of interest should be asked about in the initial interview process. Also, make sure you read the internship listing in its entirety and look for information on that skill. If you aren’t sure whether that specific skill will be taught, ask your employer if you can talk with them. You can ask if there is an opportunity to learn how to write a press release or shadow people doing cold-calls or pitch calls.

What Impression Are You Trying to Make?

Before the internship starts, ask yourself how you want the staff at the company to remember you. What are the specific words you want that company to use when describing your performance? Make a list of those words and think about what you can do every day to make a good impression. Here's an idea of words that you would want the employer to use when describing you: professional, friendly, helpful, creative, innovative, responsible, and reliable. As an example, some actions you could take as an intern to be spoken about using those words might include; being punctual, participating in brainstorm sessions, helping everyone, greeting everyone each morning, stepping up when others don’t, arriving early and staying late.

How Are You Going to Extend the Impact of This Experience?

Yes, an internship only lasts a semester-long, however, you want this experience to impact the rest of your professional life. One way to do that is by building strong, below-the-surface relationships. Check out the book "All Work, No Pay" for reference. You want to take the time to build relationships with your co-workers, understand what drives them, and nurture those relationships long after the internship. Our final expert advice is to stay in touch with professional contacts at least three times per year.