You did it! Congratulations on another year of college completed. Chances are, you have an internship lined up for the summer. The Harvard Business Review says that about 75% of college students work in an internship at some point.
So, what can you do to make the most of this experience?
1) Know what stage of the internship you are in and act appropriately
The first few weeks of an internship are the “honeymoon” phase where is everything is new – people, processes, routines, location. Take your time acclimating. Ask questions. Mistakes are expected and tolerated at this stage, so jump right in!
The next few weeks transition into the “initiation” phase where you will have increased expectations placed on you. Your supervisors will be more critical of your work and attention will be focused on performance and productivity.
In the third stage you should be displaying “competency”. You will gain confidence in your work and have a greater understanding of the company culture. You should be looking for ways to find solutions to daily issues that arise, displaying assertiveness and initiative.
Your internship closes out in the final “evaluation” stage. Make sure that all your internship requirements have been met and that you have properly thanked your supervisors and co-workers. Take time to evaluate yourself – your performance as well as your “fit”. Is this a job you could see yourself doing long-term? Is this a company that you would like to be part of in the future? Does your current major and career choice still fit you?
2) Translate your internship experience into a résumé builder
Identify three real-life experiences you gained that can now be added to your résumé. A helpful format is: experience + impact (here is what I did and here is what this means for you, Mr./Ms. Employer)
3) Use your internship as an opportunity to build your professional network
It may be tempting to spend most of your time hanging out with the other interns, but do take time to form relationships within your team and throughout the company. Observe others who are great relationship builders and learn from them. Conduct informational interviews with staff members. Make yourself memorable.
Identify three relationships you have built that you can leverage for future employment. Who have you worked with that can help either as a reference, or as someone who has connections to others who may have connections to jobs in the future?
Written by: Amy Westra, Dordt CollegeAssociate Director of Career Development
Edited by: Emily Rollins, St. Ambrose University
Career Advisor/Coordinator of Events & Marketing