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Career Planning

Make the Most of Your Summer Internship

Leah Westfall

May 27, 2010

Make the Most of Your Summer Internship
If you’re a student or graduate who has landed yourself a summer internship consider yourself lucky, very lucky. You’re on your way to starting your career! Since you landed the gig, and since you will probably be spending the better part of your summer there, possibly even unpaid, you should take full advantage of the opportunity. The tips below will help you make the most of your summer internship. Avoid doing nothing. You got the internship so use it. Know your role as the intern. Establish goals early on with your supervisor laying out what they expect of you as well as what you want to get out of the experience. Set goals you are confident you will obtain but also set a few stretch long-term goals. When you meet these goals make your supervisor aware, in a polite non-boastful manner of course. If your internship experience is not going as well as you hoped speak up early on so that you and your supervisor can work to change it and no one wastes their time. Do more than what is asked of you. Often interns aren’t given a lot of responsibility with their internship providers, it could be as little as picking up lunch and making coffee and you clearly don’t want that to be the only thing you did with your position all summer. So take it upon yourself to go above and beyond what is asked of you. Suggest ideas when appropriate, ask to sit in on meetings, test something out, write an email, a report, or crunch some numbers; it might just be the difference between getting a call back when a position opens up and getting forgotten about at your desk.

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Ask questions. This goes along with the above point, remember you’re there to learn (and you want to know more than how your supervisor takes his/her coffee right?) so ask away. Look for opportunities to learn instead of waiting for them to come along. Be excited about your intern position and remember the more you put into it the more you’ll get out of it.
Develop contacts. Although you might think no one knows your name (and they might not) you’re still a new face in the office/field, so introduce yourself whenever possible. Networking starts on day one. Remember people’s names, if you’re bad at this keep a list of who you’ve met and their position. Grab lunch with an employee you’ve worked with, your supervisor or even an intern who’s been there longer than you.

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Keep in contact. Even if your internship only last a few short months you were still a part of the company at one point so work this. The best thing you can get from an internship is a job, the second best thing, a reference. Stay fresh on your supervisor’s and coworker’s minds. Should a position open up you want to be the first person they think of. Have a good attitude. So you may not be getting paid for the work you’re doing and maybe your best bud is spending his/her summer days at the beach but you need to put all that aside. You’re focusing on your career and it will all pay off in the end. Have an open mind, a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, try new things, face new challenges and be willing to help out when asked. Just think, when your friend is peeling off the last of his/her sunburn you may be landing yourself a great job.

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Follow the company dress code. Maybe this goes without saying but this point needs to be driven home. You may want to stand out at work but using your wardrobe to do so is not the best idea. Have a sense of style without going against the company culture. Inquire about entry level positions. Express your interest in working for the company where you intern. Don’t assume that the employer knows you want a full time position, for all he/she knows you could be there just to fulfill a college requirement. You got hired for a reason; you’re the man/woman for the job! Maybe you even beat out a few fellow applicants. Use your skills and really work your internship, make this summer a memorable one for your career. Good luck out there!

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