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Tips for Interns
Remember, you will out get out of your internship what you put into it. Many supervisors have told me interns that are "go-getters" are the ones who are most successful. Before you begin your internship (and during your internship) you should keep these tips in mind to get the most out of your internship.
Be vocal. You are your own advocate on the internship; your parents and your teachers are not there to speak for you. Often your supervisors are very busy and don't have time to keep track of what you are or aren't learning on the job. The internship agreement is designed to help YOU as well as your supervisor. If you aren't getting the experience you agreed to on the internship agreement, meet with your supervisor and discuss what areas you'd like to cover. As always, be positive, professional, and courteous. Show appreciation for what experience you have gained so far and then remind him or her of what other tasks were described in the agreement—what tasks you'd like to accomplish before the internship ends.
Keep a log. You will be expected to write an essay on your internship experience at the end of the course. Keep a record of your day-to-day activities. This record will help you write that final paper.
Keep samples of your work. You should turn these in with your essay at the end of the semester, but you can keep extra copies for your own portfolio. You can bring this portfolio to future job interviews to show future employers concrete examples of your accomplishments.
Be courteous and professional. Professional behavior sends a message that you take your job seriously, no matter how "menial" you believe the tasks to be. Often, you have to start with small tasks to earn an employer's trust and to gain more responsibilities. You can't be expected to walk in and "run the show," so to speak, on an internship or on your first job. All jobs, you'll soon find, involve some unexciting aspects.
Remember, too, that part of the benefits of an internship is networking. If you do a good job, the supervisors will be sure to let other, possible employers know. But if you do a poor job, they might pass that info along, too.
Be on time. Being on time is part of being a professional and responsible employee. Supervisors are giving their time to help you. Be respectful and don't waste their time. Also, you are expected to complete a certain number of hours per week to get credit for this internship. If you do not complete the required number of hours, you will not get credit for the internship.
Be observant. As you spend more time on the internship, you'll know more about the culture of your organization. Observe how coworkers interact. Take note of dress and behavior to see what is acceptable and unacceptable on the job.
Take the initiative. One of the most frequent comments I receive from supervisors is that they would like their interns to participate more in staff meetings and take the initiative on projects. Employers will not always tell you what needs to be done. A good employee will find out what needs doing and do it on his or her own without being told. This skill is one you will want to develop during your internship. If you see how a job can be done more efficiently, don't be afraid to speak out—or jump in to try doing it yourself.
Be receptive to criticism. You are not expected to know how to do everything on an internship,that is why you are interning! An internship is your time to make mistakes and learn from them. Of course this can be a painful process but know that everyone goes through it at one point or another.
Part of what you will be learning is how to deal with managers. Some managers will tell you exactly what they expect and exactly how you haven't met their expectations. Others might not be so forthright. If you feel like you are not getting enough feedback, don't hesitate to ask for it. Be thirsty for that knowledge!
Seek help if you are in over your head. Don't be afraid to ask questions. A supervisor would rather have you perform the task right than guess at it. They know you are learning; again, a supervisor does not expect that you already know how to do everything.
For more information, visit the internship page on our website.