Making the Most Out of Your Internship: Insight from a Supervisor

Congratulations! You have landed an internship! Whether you are going to be working full-time or just a couple hours a week, it is important to plan ahead for your experience. Your internship can be a great time to learn more about yourself as a professional and reflect on what you are looking for in your career. In my role at the Career Connections Center, I have supervised many amazing interns! Here are a five ways I’ve noticed interns really making the most of their experience.

1. Be Timely
Being on-time (or early!) is one of the first things I notice as a supervisor. Give yourself plenty of time to get to work your first couple days. It takes a while to nail down your routine – especially if you are traveling from class, picking up coffee, getting up earlier or picking out professional clothing! It is also helpful for your supervisor and other colleagues when you get to the office promptly. Often times, your supervisor might have you join meetings or complete a time sensitive task. If you are late, it can often throw off the whole day for many people!

2. Speak Up!
I’ve heard a lot of students say, “oh I am just an intern,” when I’ve talked with them about the impact that they have made within their organization. Own your value! Think about what you can contribute to the organization. Do you have insight on a problem? Is there an idea that might be helpful to move a project forward? It can often be intimidating when you are new, but challenge yourself to speak up and share your perspective. You bring more to the table than you might think.

3. Nurture your Professional Relationships
Throughout your internship, you will probably end up interacting with several co-workers or colleagues. Your relationship with your supervisor is very important, but not the only relationship to consider. Think about the people that you might meet during your internship experience – they could be leaders in the organization, team members, administrative professionals and even other interns! No matter what their title, it is important to get to know people. Introduce yourself to everyone and explain what you are doing during your internship. This will help people recognize you quickly and share information that could be helpful for your role. Also, be curious! Ask people about their jobs, as well their own career journey. You never know who might be able to help you.

4. Be Proactive
Many times, I’ve heard students say, “Well I completed my task, I don’t have anything else to do today.” It’s normal to have slower days during your internship, but it’s what you do on those slower days that make you stand out. Part of being an intern, is understanding your organization’s needs. Is there something that could help out your supervisor? Does a fellow intern need feedback on their project? Is there someone you could shadow? Does the intern office need straightening up? Jumping in and being helpful shows your willingness to support your team. It is also important to communicate with your supervisor about the progress of your projects so they can utilize your time most effectively.

5. Take Time to Reflect
One of the biggest tips I can give interns is to actually think critically about your internship experience. Asking yourself questions about your experience and sharing them with someone you trust is important. Reflect on: The best part of your experience? The worst part? What gave you energy? Why did you hate going to those staff meetings? These are just some questions that I encourage interns to think about to help make sense of their experience as a whole. It’s important to remember that, not every internship will be the best experience of all time. Sometimes reflecting on what you didn’t enjoy can give you insight for the future.

What suggestions would you add to this list?

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