By Julia Sosenko
Research and Career Management Specialist
6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship
Take notes on every training you receive, every explanation of a project you work on, and even outlines of the team and corporate structure. This will not only keep you engaged in what you are learning, but will also give you something to reference later on so that you're not asking questions to supervisors about topics that were already thoroughly explained.
Keep a running list of what you have accomplished (i.e. a project that brought value to your employer,) what you learned from that experience, and what skills you developed. It will surprise you how hard it can be to think back on an internship and remember what you actually accomplished if you had not documented any of it! This will be really helpful to reference when you are updating your resume, and when you are thinking of specific projects to reference in interviews.
Ask for Feedback
A common interview question is “What would a previous supervisor say is an area of development for you?” How do you know the answer? You may have to request feedback from your manager if he or she does not provide it otherwise. Not only will this give you an answer for that difficult interview question, but it will also allow you to start improving that skill set through the rest of your internship. In fact, I would highly encourage incorporating how you are working towards improvement whenever an interviewer asks a question about a weakness or area for development.
Own up to Mistakes
If you make a mistake during your internship that you cannot swiftly fix on your own, you may initially want to try to sweep it under the rug to keep your reputation intact. There is however immense value in bringing the mistake to the attention of your supervisor. If you make a mistake in school, it often only affects you. However, if you make a mistake in a professional setting, it could have much broader impacts. When speaking with your supervisor it is important to apologize, ask for feedback on how you can fix the problem (be sure to come up with possible solutions on your own first!) and assure that it will not happen again. This will show that you care about the quality of work you do, can take ownership of mistakes, and are solutions orientated.
Build a Portfolio
Ask if you can keep copies of any deliverables you have produced. Some may be confidential, but those that are not will be great for you to attach with your applications or bring to job interviews to showcase your relevant skill sets.
Maintain your contacts as much as possible after you leave your internship.
Connect with your colleagues and supervisors on LinkedIn. Reach out occasionally to re-connect. You never know when an opportunity may arise at their current place of employment that could be a fit for you. You will also need employment references that can attest to your abilities!