Got a summer internship? Congratulations! You have taken a huge step in setting yourself up for job search success! Employers love to see internships on candidate resumes; the hands-on experience you gain allows you to build the skills they seek in full time employees.
Internships are also an excellent way to “test drive” a career option you are considering to ensure it is the right fit for you. Even if you determine throughout the experience that you want to pursue something different, the skills you develop throughout your internship often easily transition into other fields.
So now that you have the internship, be sure you are getting as much out of it as you possibly can!
Meaningful project work
When you applied for your internship, it is likely that you had some kind of a position description detailing the responsibilities of the selected intern, and you probably learned quite a bit about these duties throughout the interview process and in your first few days in the internship.
While surely the responsibilities within the position description must have been appealing to you given your acceptance of the internship offer, don’t be afraid to ask for the opportunity to gain experience in some key areas you are trying to develop.
Is there something the organization does that is cutting edge, creative, or really interesting to you? Ask for the opportunity to get involved. Are there some skills you know will be important in your chosen career field which you would like to build? Speak with your supervisor about ways to gain some experience in those areas.
While there is a certain amount of mundane, “tasky” stuff that will likely be a part of your internship (this is true for full time professionals as well), if you are primarily getting coffee and making copies, you are not participating in meaningful project work, which is what makes an internship such a phenomenal career-preparation experience. Have a conversation with your supervisor to discuss ways to ensure you are getting resume-worthy experience appealing to a future employer.
Try new things
Amid your various tasks and projects within your internship, always be on the lookout for the opportunity to try something new. If you find yourself in a meeting in which a new initiative is being discussed, consider volunteering to assist. Is there something exciting happening in another department? Speak with your supervisor about the opportunity to get involved. While the responsibilities, goals, and projects you and your supervisor have discussed will certainly take priority, taking advantage of the opportunity to learn new things, getting a well-rounded understanding of the organization’s functions, and building additional connections is always a good thing!
Certainly you want to develop a good working relationship with your supervisor as doing so may lead to him serving as a reference for you or making you aware of openings within the organization after the conclusion of the internship.
Connecting with other interns can also prove beneficial as they may also make you aware of appealing job opportunities in the future. But be sure that you connect beyond your immediate circle of colleagues to further develop your professional network and to learn more about how the organization functions as a whole.
Also, if the “big boss” is not someone easily accessible to the interns, speak with your supervisor to see how you might get the opportunity to meet her before the conclusion of your internship. Each of these connections has the potential to positively impact your future job search by serving as a formal or informal reference and making you aware of full time job opportunities that may be of interest to you. Additionally, should an opening come available within the organization at which you are interning, the more people you have in your corner, the better!
Update your resume and get feedback
During the last couple weeks of your internship, take some time to update your resume to reflect all you accomplished throughout your internship experience. Be sure to consult your position description to note your ongoing responsibilities, include your accomplishments, and highlight the projects with which you were involved.
Finally, consider adding those unique projects (perhaps outside your department and outside your position description) which can showcase the variety of skills you utilized and developed throughout your internship. Once you have updated your resume, be sure to set up a meeting with your supervisor to ask for feedback – on format and content. Not only can your supervisor offer resume feedback from the perspective of a professional within the field, he can also help you remember important experiences you may have forgotten to include!
Best of luck for an amazing internship! And don’t forget – the more experience, the better. If you can do another internship or gain some hands-on experience through volunteering, take advantage of these opportunities and make sure they are prominently displayed on your resume!