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How can I get the most out of an internship?

Student Career Placement Consultant

I regularly teach an internship course for undergraduate students, and over the years I have often asked them to provide me with advice for future interns. That is, I ask them to share the things that they’ve figured out by the end of their internship experience that they wish they had known when they started. Here’s a compilation of some of that advice:

  • Be self-motivated. Don’t wait until you’re asked to do a task; look for things that need to be done and volunteer to do them.
  • Collaborate with and befriend other employees.
  • Have fun.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Be open to advice. Recognize that you don’t know everything right off the bat and that advice can help you improve your skills.
  • Be prepared. Learn as much as you can about the organization before you start.
  • Manage your time so that you can meet your deadlines.
  • Be proficient with software. If you have to learn something new, ask for any help that you need while it’s still early in the experience.
  • Be considerate of other people’s responsibilities and deadlines.
  • Stay focused and do your job.
  • Don’t expect anybody to pick up your slack.
  • Try to impress your boss.
  • Get involved with the  work of the organization as much as possible.
  • Have an open mind.
  • Be ready to do all the tasks, even the ones that aren’t “glamorous.”
  • The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.
  • Jump right into things and be aggressive about what you want out of it.
  • Talk to professionals in the field you are working with to learn the language and procedures of the organization.
  • Be up front about your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Let them know what you want to do, but be willing to do other things.

Share your thoughts!