How to Get the Most From Your Internship

An internship provides valuable experiences
 You’re about to step into summer, and you’ve scored a valuable internship! Congratulations, and welcome to the working world! (Or rather, welcome to a version of the “working world” that looks pretty similar to the real thing, even though it differs in a few key ways.)You already know this, but it’s worth stating again: An internship can offer important benefits to students on the brink of graduation. If you spend it wisely, the summer ahead can boost your resume when you’re ready to launch your professional job search. If all goes well, you’ll spend the summer falling in love with this company and the feeling will be mutual; therefore, you won’t need to launch a job search because you’ll leave this internship with a full-time offer in hand. Here are a few simple moves that can support a positive outcome.

First: review why you’re doing this internship  

A great internship can bring the following things into your life 1) a formal job offer (maybe!) 2) important experience that can help you shine as you sell yourself to employers outside of this company 3) valuable experience that can help you determine if this field is really the right one for you4) confidence in your first official position 5) money that can help you eat, pay rent, and defray some of your student loans.

Keep an open mind

Every internship experience is different, since there’s no established definition for this term. When you show up on day one, you may be handed serious assignments with real consequences and meaningful compensation. Then again, you may also be met by confused looks, pushed toward a seat in the corner, and forgotten about for the rest of the day. Be ready for anything. Keep an open mind, and tell your supervisor exactly what you’d like to get out of this experience.

Be friendly and respectful

No matter what you’re asked to do (even if sounds absurd), be respectful, friendly, and cheerful. If you’d rather not sit alone in a room sorting paper clips all day, say so. Ask to be shown around, ask for meaningful work, and ask questions about the company and the business. The less you’re being paid, the more you have a right to control how you spend your hours here. But as you make your requests and ask your questions, stay flexible and agreeable.  

Know the terms before you start

If you’ll be compensated in course credit instead of money, that’s okay — just make sure the terms are satisfactory to you and get them in writing before you commit. The same applies if you’ll be working for the promise of a recommendation, valuable training, or anything else. Know beforehand what will happen if you decide to change course or leave before the summer ends.

Enjoy yourself

There will never be another chapter in your working life quite like this one. Enjoy it! As an intern, you don’t yet have the burdens, benefits, or responsibilities of a full-time employee, and you probably won’t be paid very much. But at the same time, you’ll be free to make mistakes, ask silly questions, accept or reject assignments, and request specific types of exposure. Boldly ask to be mentored — you risk nothing if you receive a no. Boldly ask for training. Ask for guidance. And if this experience isn’t working for you, show yourself out. Just make sure you deal honestly and respectfully with everyone you meet, and take advantage of the unique opportunities that surround you in this place. For more on how to leverage your internship, no matter how your experience plays out, explore the tips and guidelines on MyPerfectResume.