3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer Internship
Internships offer students and recent graduates an opportunity to gain real world experience and exposure to a potential future career. Depending on the structure of the program and company culture, an internship program can help you either reaffirm your career selection, or recognize that it’s time to consider another path.
Consider an internship to be your sneak peak into a chosen field of study, and chance to observe the following:
- Insight into the skills required for positions of choice.
- Access to network with company professionals to see their day-to-day work life.
- Experience in a role that supports overarching business objectives.
- Discovery into how nuances of culture make a company its own, and impact policies and procedures.
Internships can be a lot to take in, so make the most of your time by staying focused and being proactive. Below, we share three tips on how to make the greatest impact as an intern and leave with a feeling of accomplishment.
1. Set Goals and Track Progress Made
By the time you are acquainted with the processes and staff, into a groove with work and feeling comfortable in your role, it may seem as though your internship is already over. When looking back, it may be difficult to remember all that you learned, projects completed and the daily on-goings of working at the company.
Before your start the internship, identify a few goals to work toward, and track progress toward each as you go. Implement a reoccurring check-in with yourself (either weekly or monthly) and document the following:
- Highs and lows. Did you have any big wins? Where do you have room to improve?
- What you learned. Are you learning any new technologies? Did you gain new experience working on a project?
- Gut check. Are you giving it your best effort? Are you putting in the time needed to achieve your goals and meet expectations of the position?
Your running document of notes will help you maintain momentum throughout the internship, and be cognizant of progress from start to finish.
Once the internship is done, this will make it easier to relay all that you’ve accomplished. By the end, you should be able to answer several key questions—what progress did I make toward my professional development goals? What impact did I have on this organization? What can I take with me and apply to a future position?
2. Ask Your Supervisor For Feedback
There will be times when answers to questions about your progress simply cannot be answered by you and you alone. Look to your supervisor(s) for feedback and support throughout the internship, and before your final review.
Ask for a few moments of their time—a quick meet-up, walk and talk, or to grab a cup of coffee or lunch—and inquire about your performance.
A few questions to ask in conversation:
- Am I meeting or exceeding expectations for the internship?
- What do you see as my professional strengths? What are my weaknesses?
- What more can I do for my team, and to help make the most of my time here?
This can also be a time to seek out help. If there is a project or task you need clarification on, take that time to ask. Or, if there is a specific area of focus, a project of interest, or a skill you’d really like master while with the company, make a quick pitch and show off your ambition.
3. Follow Up and Stay in Touch
An internship’s end can be the beginning of a powerful professional relationship. As your time with the company comes to a close, take time to express your gratitude for the opportunity. Write a hand-written thank you note to your supervisor(s), as well as any other team members who aided in your professional development during your stay.
But don’t stop there! Connect with your former colleagues on LinkedIn (if you haven’t already), follow them on other social networks (if relevant), and keep in touch. Look for opportunities to say hello, send a warm congratulations, or remark on the latest company news to remain on their radar.
Also be sure to keep them in the know of your professional journey. Alert former bosses as you make continued strides toward your professional development plans. This could be in the form of certifications, particularly relevant classes or additional internship opportunities.
What can students do to make a lasting impression during an internship? Consider the possibilities, and share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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Image Source: Ramesh NG under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic