Five Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship

by Sara Vazquez Shaw

Internships may satisfy many goals: to build a résumé, to gain exposure to a certain industry, to network, to increase job prospects, and to help gain entry into college or graduate school. But in order for the internship to have the greatest impact, it's best to know up-front what you're looking to achieve. Each internship has standards that are typically the same for everyone. In order to differentiate yourself, you'll need to have an agenda. Here are a few suggestions to help you stand out from the rest of the eager interning crowd:

1. Share Your Goals with the Supervisor

It's good to have clear goals written down or communicated with your supervisor, as it shows you are eager and have a plan. This kind of proactive behaviour will likely be viewed positively. Even if you don't reach all of your goals during the term of your internship, you'll project a professional appearance. As it's often been said, first impressions are important.

2. Temper Your Expectations

Even if you explicitly share your hopes for the internship, you may get few opportunities to actually realise them. The fact is that internships, especially in high demand companies, are very competitive. Like it or not, many businesses have their interns run errands, file paperwork, and deliver mail. Do your best with whatever tasks you're given, and try to learn as much as possible regardless.

3. Dress Professionally

Office culture varies from business to business, but you should always dress as if you're going to an important job interview. As an intern, you're still trying to prove yourself. As tempting as it may be, don't participate in "Casual Fridays" unless you were told you can by your supervisor. Your commitment to projecting a professional appearance will absolutely stand out.

4. Socialise and Network

During your internship, you may not have many chances to work on projects related to your field. But if you are friendly with co-workers, you can find numerous opportunities to learn. At after-work social events, office parties, and breaks, try to connect with others. Ask questions through casual conversations with those employees who seem open to chatting or teaching.

5. Stay Positive

Even if you find your internship disappointing, keep doing your best to maintain an optimistic attitude. You may have spent your summer doing tasks you disliked. However, you could probably obtain a good reference letter if you work hard and avoid complaining.