Getting the most out of internship experience

What can you expect of your internship experience?

You can expect your employer to assign somebody to oversee your work, to give you work to do and to answer your questions. Employers are usually very busy people; so do not plan on constant attention. But you can expect to be oriented to your work situation and have somebody you can ask when you have questions.

Expect to learn a lot about your company. You can learn many things by observing others at work. You can also learn by doing.

You probably will not be given demanding assignments. In fact, you may be given very basic work such as copying documents, filing, answering telephones, running errands, etc. for much of the time. You may get some more challenging assignments, or work that is directly related to your career interest, but not always. Sometimes the best you can expect is to observe the work environment first-hand. But that can be tremendously valuable to you in deciding if you like a career field.

How can you get the most out of the internship?

Make a plan – Decide what you want to learn on the internship. If you have some idea of what you might like to learn, you can ask for work that will accomplish your goals.

Get to know some of the employees – Talk to your employer or to some of the employees. Make an arrangement to conduct an “information interview” to find out more about what particular employees do…what they do on a typical day, the pros and cons of their job, etc.

Find a mentor – You may find it possible to ask your employer or one of the workers to be your mentor. A mentor is a person who meets with you to provide career advice and other recommendations regarding you, your future, the world of work, school, etc.

Other Tips on How to Make the Most of your Internship

What to do if and when your boss criticizes you or your work? – Accept constructive criticism from your Immediate Supervisor. This is a time for learning and growing and an opportunity for you to become a better future employee. Try not to be defensive. Try not to worry if your work is not perfect. Of course you are trying to do quality work, but we all make mistakes. Don’t expect to be an expert…you are there to learn and you will make mistakes and will probably produce “beginner’s work!” at the beginning.

Be careful what you say – Never, never, never say negative things about your employer to another employee, to a site supervisor, or to another intern (e.g. “I hate my boss!” or “What a silly assignment”). You would be so surprised at how quickly your comments get back to your employer! The person in whom you are confiding your complaints may be smiling at you and inviting you to comment, but that does not mean that what you say will be held in confidence.

Be appreciative – Say thank you and show appreciation for the internship opportunity. Write thank you notes to your supervisors and others. We all like to feel appreciated and that includes your employer!

Be a can-do type person – Show your employer that you are a go-getter by taking the initiative and showing your eagerness to take on tasks. Ask for work. But be sensitive to not overstepping boundaries, acting bossy or too aggressive on the job.

Enjoy your internship experience….