Maximize Your Internship Experience

Starting a new internship can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. Approach your internship as you would a full-time, permanent job. The advice below can help you make the most of your experience.

8 Ways to Get the Most from Your Internship

Learn as much as you can from your internship experience and focus on ways you can expand your professional skills and contacts. The experience you get now can become the building blocks of your professional development and will help you discover your future career.

1. Identify your goals.

Before you start, think about what you hope to learn and achieve. Approach assignments with initiative and enthusiasm, and seek out new challenges. Always remain open to new learning opportunities.

2. Ask questions.

Remember, you aren’t expected to know everything. Ask for help when needed to avoid making mistakes. You may come up with new ideas or ways of doing something. Be sure to discuss those ideas with your supervisor to better understand what your limitations are as an intern, and work within them.

3. Become a team player.

Build relationships by treating everyone you meet with respect and professionalism. Get to know your coworkers to gain insight into how to work well with them. Think of ways you can become a contributing team member. Take the time to learn about other divisions or departments to find out how their function fits within the goals of the organization.

4. Learn the organization’s/department’s policies and procedures.

Review any policy information you have about the organization. However, realize that some policies are not always formal or in writing. During your first few days on the job, ask coworkers and supervisors about email and voicemail etiquette, break or lunch schedules, office attire, internal communications and other protocols.

5. Develop a good working relationship with your supervisor.

Be open to all feedback and clarify expectations with your supervisor. Find out how often you will meet with him or her, and be prepared for these meetings by keeping track of your projects and accomplishments. Ask questions to assess your progress.

6. Find a mentor as a professional resource.

A mentor can provide practical advice about your transition from college to the workplace. Someone who started out as an intern, or is in their first or second year on the job, may also be able to give you advice about work-related issues and future career paths.

7. Expand your professional connections within the field.

Use the Alumni Careers Network during your internship to connect with alumni who are working in the same field, city or organization. Consider joining national or regional professional associations to create even more networking opportunities.

8. Reflect on your current internship and leverage it for future opportunities.

At the end of your internship, consider what you learned about yourself — your abilities, skills, interests, values and accomplishments. How will the new skills and knowledge contribute to your future career plans? Remember to ask your supervisor if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Also, schedule an appointment with a career counselor to update your resume with your latest internship experience.