Creating SMART Goals to Find an Internship

Interns collaborating on a project in a modern office.

Milton Brown / Caiaimage / Getty Images

Creating goals using the SMART goal system is a technique that is often used by business professionals. It is an acronym that was believed to have been first used in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran and also was described by Paul J. Meyer in his book "Attitude is Everything."

To create SMART goals, you must first write down your goals and evaluate them to make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. You will then follow the SMART goal process as outlined below.


By being specific in creating your goals, you will become much more aware of what you want to happen. In order to be specific in creating your goals, you must be able to answer the following questions: who, what, where, when, which, and why.

For example, if you want to get an internship for this summer, you can make your goal(s) specific by answering the following questions:

  • Who is involved in your getting an internship?
  • What is it you hope to accomplish?
  • Where do you want an internship?
  • When do you want an internship?
  • Which internship(s) do you want?
  • Why do you want an internship?


Measuring the progress of your goals will make it much more likely that you will achieve them.

When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach each goal. Establishing concrete criteria for measuring progress on attaining your goal(s) will let you know that you are on target.

For example, I will research and apply for five internships this week and network with three alumni from my college by Friday.


By selecting goals that are attainable, you are ensuring that you will do what it takes in order to achieve them. You may start by writing down short-term, mid-range, and long-term goals. For each goal, you can set a timeframe on what steps you need to take in order to achieve each goal. In order to attain your goals, you need to be committed to achieving them. This commitment will ensure that you will do everything it takes to accomplish your goals.

For example, you want to get an internship in journalism for the summer. You may begin by looking for internship opportunities in the location where you plan to be for the summer. You can do some networking with people currently working in the field, check out online internship listings, and prospect for publications that you may work for by Googling or using your local newspaper or chamber of commerce.


Creating a strategy that will help you to attain your goals will make them more realistic. Deciding to do something challenging will also make it more realistic because you will have to take action in order to make it happen. Setting a goal that’s realistic and achievable will give you the motivation to make it happen. If you set a goal that is too easy to reach, you will probably lose interest and sabotage yourself from achieving your goal.

Time-Bound or Tangible

Creating a timeline for achieving your goals will make it much more likely that you will begin taking the action required to achieve your goals in the allotted timeframe. You also want your goal to be tangible whereby you can actually feel like you can make it happen. A tangible goal is specific, measurable, and attainable and usually, you can feel it like it’s already happened.