It feels like you started your internship yesterday, but you’re actually halfway through the summer! Let’s make sure you’re maximizing your remaining time. Below are a few tips to make sure you’re using your time wisely to get the most of the experience, whether positive or negative.
- Take advantage of your network: How many people do you know in your office? If your answer is only the folks that are on your direct project team, get to work. Knowing others in the industry, making sure you have an idea of the business you’re working in as a whole (not just your specific part in it), and learning different aspects of the industry are important. You can also network to gain invaluable insights and wisdom from professionals in your chosen field. Learn about other people’s career paths, their outlook on the industry, and seek advice. Networking can also help you find a mentor when you’re looking for a full time role, whether or not you’re looking to stay where you intern.
- Ask for feedback: At some companies, you may not have a summer mentor to give you feedback. If you don’t (or even if you do!) ask a few questions to one of your team members who knows you well. Feedback is crucial, and you don’t want the last day of your internship to come and go without knowing what’s going well, and what isn’t. Especially if an easy change you could have made would have gotten you an invitation to work there again. Don’t know what to ask? Start with:
- What am I doing well this summer?
- What could I do to improve?
- Would you want me to work on your team full time?
- Work hard: While this is pretty obvious advice, you should be ramped up at this point and should be able to produce some high quality work. Show off your skills, and if you don’t have enough to do ask for more work. Your internship should be more than a resume builder, but I bet you’re going to put this on your resume. So be thinking about what those bullet points will be. What do you want to leave being able to share that you accomplished? How did you make an impact?
- Take initiative and add value: Are there things you can volunteer for? Maybe you can plan a team lunch, team meeting, happy hour, or intern event. Taking initiative can provide you with the chance to work with different team members at your company that you wouldn’t otherwise interact with and you never know where those connections will get you! As you get to know a company more, you can identify opportunities for improvement. Just because you’re an intern doesn’t mean that you can’t impact change. Also think about when you’re applying for roles in the future, what if you had to ask for a recommendation? What do you think your employer would say about you, or more importantly - would they remember who you are?
- Indicate your interest: If you’re interested in staying at your company long-term, let your mentor, intern coordinator, recruiter, or someone else know that you are interested in staying. Just like when you ask for feedback, you can also ask if this person sees any blocks to you working with the company. If they do, better now than later because you still have time to change behaviors or learn some new things. If you wait to ask that question or wait to indicate your interest, you could miss out on an opportunity.
- Be social with other interns! This is different than professional networking, more to make sure you’re still having a fun summer. However, this can still be a great learning opportunity as you get to know your peers and what they are working on both inside and outside of the company. You also never know when you may cross paths in the future. It is always great to have connections in your field from around the country. And who knows - you could make a best friend in this process!
Overall, your summer internship is what you make it. To many companies, this is a two month interview process, vetting interns to see if they have a future in their work environment. If you use these tips, you’ll have a better idea of where you stand. Also, networking and meeting more people where you work helps you decide if this is the work environment for you!