5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship

 In Career Services, Residence Life

Like any experience, an internship is what you make of it. Don’t think of it just as a resume booster – recognize it for the valuable opportunity it is, and take it as seriously as you would a real job. There are several ways to make sure you’re optimizing the experience and getting the most possible out of your first exposure to your chosen career field.

Shadow Coworkers as Much as Possible

One of the main purposes of taking an internship is to experience what employees in your field do on a day-to-day basis. Don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers if you can shadow them and observe what they do throughout the day. If this wasn’t part of your manager’s plan for you, you should definitely voice your interest in shadowing any coworkers who wouldn’t mind having you tagging around.

While asking questions as you shadow someone is important, you don’t want to become annoying or disruptive. If the person you’re shadowing is clearly very busy, it might be best to write out a list of questions to save for an email you can send them later. They can then answer when they have a minute, and they won’t feel that you’ve interrupted them.

Keep Track of What You’ve Learned and Accomplished

While adding to your resume shouldn’t be your only motivation for completing an internship, it should certainly be part of it. Make sure that as you go, you’re making note of everything you’ve done – every project you’ve worked on, program you’ve used, skill you’ve developed, etc. This will be incredibly helpful when you do add it to your resume at the end. Make sure you eventually add this new experience and any new skills to your online profiles as well.

Don’t Just Network – Try to Find a Mentor

You already know it’s important to network with everyone you meet during an internship, because you never know how you might be able to help each other in the future. But you should always aim to take it even further than that – remember that your coworkers are people who were once students or recent grads, too. They can offer truly valuable advice to you, and if you play your cards right, they just might be open to taking you under their wing and providing you with the insight you need to someday get where they are.

Pinpoint Your Weaknesses So You Can Improve on Them

Your internship is essentially your “trial run” in your chosen career field. Once you enter into a real position, the stakes will naturally be higher, and there will be less room for error. This means that now is the perfect time to ask for feedback regarding your weaknesses so that you can begin improving on them right away. Ask for (and be able to accept) honest criticism from your manager and coworkers. They think you could work on your organization skills? Make a plan that focuses in on improving that aspect of your work ethic. Asking for feedback, and then utilizing it, is a huge tool for personal growth and making sure you’re the best version of yourself for when you land a permanent job in your field.

Don’t Be Bitter If You Don’t Get Hired

There are many reasons you might not get hired at the end of your internship. It could have to do with your performance, but it could also be related to any other number of factors. Maybe your company just isn’t looking to make your position a paid one right now. It’s natural to feel disappointed if this happens, but whatever you do, make sure you leave with your head held high. Exit on a good note; thank everyone, politely ask if you can use them as references, and stay connected to them. It’s easy to feel hurt that your company didn’t choose to hire you, but that’s no reason to burn the bridges you worked so hard to build.

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