How to Make the Most of Your Summer Internship

By Kaitlin Bressler, Undergraduate Career Consultant

With summer right around the corner, there is no better time than the present to determine how you will make the most of the journey you are about to embark on. Here are some tips to help you be most successful before, during, and after your internship.

Preparing for your Summer Internship:

Set Personal Goals

Before your summer internship, write a list of goals you hope to achieve over the summer. These goals can be work related, such as completing a certain type of project, or these could even be some personal goals you’ve set for yourself. For example, getting out of your comfort zone, or simply meeting new people and creating new relationships this summer. It’s a good idea to document these goals so that you can go back at the end of your internship and do some self-reflecting and hopefully realize that you’ve grown a lot throughout the course of your internship experience.

Seek out Alumni

It is always a good idea to reach out to alumni at your organization, or even just in your city so you have someone you can look to as a resource. Before you begin your internship, set up an initial coffee or lunch meeting. Have a list of good conversation starters prepared for when you meet up, such as “How did you originally find your position?” or “What do you enjoy the most about working at _____?” This person will likely be a great resource or mentor for you, especially if you are moving to a new city for your internship.

Dress Successfully

Make sure you know the office dress code expectations for the summer. If dress is business professional, you will want to make sure you’re prepared with the appropriate attire before the summer internship starts. Companies have different dress policies, so it’s a good idea to reach out to your HR representative to make sure you’re aware of the company dress policies before you start the internship.

Things to Consider During your Internship:

First Impressions/Confidence

It’s always important to maintain a good first impression. Make sure to be on time, and always be prompt to meetings, even if everyone else is not. During your internship it is important to remember that you are being observed under a magnifying glass, so try to minimize errors, but realize it is always ok to ask for help or clarification on projects. Try to find opportunities to contribute your ideas in group meetings, and find a way to be indispensable.

Track your Internship Projects

It is a good idea to keep track of all the projects you work on this summer. Good documentation of these assignments will help you in the future to remember what exactly you worked on (which will come in handy during future resume writing or interviewing).

Solicit Feedback

Make sure you have frequent check-in meetings with your internship supervisor and seek out feedback on your goals and achievements. Knowing your progress will help you be a more successful professional in the long run.

Handling Social Situations

Build the right kind of reputation by maintaining a high level of professionalism throughout the summer internship. Make an effort to get to know many people at your internship location this summer, and try to be friendly and open when communicating with colleagues or peers.

Stay in Touch with Internship Contacts

Staying in touch with contacts is extremely valuable. You never know when you will need a good recommendation, or need to consult someone about a new project you are working on. Because past colleagues can be great resources or references, it is good to maintain relationships so you can reach out to them if you’re ever in need.

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