Getting the Most out of an Internship

Making the Most of Your Internship Experience

Internships can provide a heads up on what it’s like working in almost any career field imaginable. It’s an opportunity to meet those currently working in the field as well as seeing what’s involved in a typical work day. To get the most out of your internship, try following the rules below and continue extending yourself by stepping out of your normal comfort zone. Although we all want to find careers that match our interests and personality, we can also learn a great deal by not limiting ourselves to people and situations that are familiar and comfortable to us.

Many internship experiences have acted as career builders by providing new and exciting career options not previously considered.

Do Your Research

Before setting out to do an internship, do some preliminary research on the types of internships that are available. If you’re interested in art, check out galleries and museums in the area. If business is what you’re hoping to do after graduation, decide on your interests whether it be advertising, finance, human resources, marketing, public relations, accounting, sales, etc. If you’re an English major interested in music, explore possibilities in magazines or journals catering to those interested or working in the music field.

Wherever your interest lies, take some time to see what’s available in that field and take the appropriate steps required to get an internship.

Prior to interviewing for an internship, be sure to research the company and find out what they do and what’s included in their mission statement. This will give you a good idea of what they focus on and how they do business. A company that prides itself in good customer relations requires employees who have strong communication and interpersonal skills while a company focused on computer technology looks for employees that are computer savvy and have the relevant skills to do the job.

Get a Good Reference

Your internship could be the key to your first job by providing a reference that makes the difference between getting hired or not. When embarking on the application process, professionalism is required from the moment you make that first contact via your cover letter and resume until the completion of your internship. Also, be mindful that you don’t blow your chances of being considered for a future position with the company by showing unprofessional behavior during lunch or after hour get-togethers.

Do not spend time during the day checking personal emails and making personal phone calls. Your behavior on the internship will be an indicator to the employer on what type of employee you will make if they decide to hire you. You will want to always portray yourself in a professional manner to convince the employer that they would be foolish not to hire you.

Do What It Takes to Get Recognized

Once hired, it is only the beginning of your connection with the employer. From the first day you step into the organization, be prepared to work hard and show the employer your willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. This is a time when you will want to put your best foot forward and offer the employer the best of what you have to give to the organization. Be inquisitive and be prepared to ask lots of questions. Arrive early and leave late. Show the employer that you enjoy what you’re doing and that you are not looking to exit at the first opportunity.

This will send a positive message to the employer that you are a potential employee they want to keep should a position opening occur.

Take some time to read journals and articles relevant to your field. You may want to join a professional association where you can get a reduced student rate as a member. Initiate discussions with other employees to learn more about past and present practices and plans for the future. This extra time can make your internship more meaningful and provide you with some basic and advance information on the industry.

Once you understand your role in the organization, be prepared to take the lead by taking the initiative and showing your ability to work independently as well as becoming a major contributor in a team environment. Leadership skills take practice and this is an excellent time to hone those skills that you have developed on campus.