5 Tips for a Successful Summer Internship Experience
An internship is a great way to expand your knowledge and apply what you've learned during your studies. It’s also a great way to gain real-world experience, boost your resume, and strengthen your skill set. Below, you’ll find advice on how to make the best of your summer internship and leave a lasting impression on the employer.
1. Set clear goals
You may already have some targets or goals set for you by your supervisor. If so, these are a great place to start. In addition, it’s a good idea to set your own goals for your internship, thinking about what you’d like to learn and achieve during your time in the position. If you can relate these to your future career aspirations, even better.
When setting your goals, be sure that they’re always specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. You can then refer to them at the end of your internship to determine if you accomplished them.
2. Seek out opportunities
It’s not enough to simply show up and sit around waiting to be told what to do, particularly as there can be quiet moments during your internship. Instead, you need to be as proactive as possible. So, if you find yourself with a bit of downtime or if things are a bit slow one day, let your supervisor know and make some suggestions for tasks you could undertake or ask to do some shadowing.
For example, if you’re waiting to undertake your next project, you could spend some time doing research, reading trade magazines, or offering to reorganize the store cupboard. Alternatively, if everyone is in a meeting and you’re waiting to be given a task, ask if you can sit in and listen or shadow someone else in the business to grow your knowledge.
It’s also important to be inquisitive and ask questions to boost your knowledge. This will show you're genuinely interested and possibly open you up to new opportunities.
3. Demonstrate your work ethic
It’s vital that you can prove to your employer that you’ve got a strong work ethic and that you don’t shy away from any task given to you. As mentioned, it’s good to ask questions to develop your knowledge; it’s also a good idea to take notes when the opportunity presents itself. By always seeking out new opportunities and getting involved in every project or task, no matter how big or small, you can show that you’re a keen and hard worker.
You should also seek feedback from your supervisor or reports wherever possible. Constructive feedback is a great way for you to improve your skills and recognize if there are any specific areas you need to focus on. Plus, it once again proves that you’re dedicated to the position and doing the best job you possibly can.
4. Get to know your colleagues
During your internship, you should make the effort to introduce yourself to as many people as possible and to get to know your colleagues. During breaks or downtime, don’t just sit on your phone or wander off into town by yourself. Stay and chat for a while; this shows that you’re friendly, approachable, and eager to learn. If you can foster some of these relationships after your internship, even better. Getting to know colleagues is also a perfect way to grow your professional network and potentially open yourself up to opportunities in the future.
5. Stay positive
Finally, it’s important that you approach every day and every task with a positive attitude. Even if you think an assignment is a little tedious or not quite what you expected to be doing, you still need to approach it with enthusiasm. Always listen attentively, be friendly with your colleagues, and get actively involved. An enthusiastic attitude is contagious, and you want everyone to remember you for the right reasons—for being positive, involved, and skilled.
Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading CV builder and careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.