Make It Work: Start Your Internship with Your Eyes on the Prize


The new season of Project Runway started a couple weeks ago and I’m once again watching and wondering which designer will come out on top. I’ve loved the show from its first season, and one of the greatest things about it is watching ordinary people take advantage of an extraordinary opportunity. Whoever becomes the “next big designer” will have worked hard to achieve the win.

As you start your fall semester internship, act like you could be the next big star on Project Runway (or Top Chef, American Idol – whatever reality TV you like). If you work hard and take advantage of the opportunity that has come your way, the payoff could be great. While it is never a guarantee that an internship will turn into a permanent position, the possibility is there. Even if the internship doesn’t turn into a job with the same organization, the experience you gain and (hopefully) good references you earn will give you a leg up in the job market.

Increase your chances of hearing “You’re In” at the end of your internship by starting it with the following in mind:

Know the organization inside and out.

While it’s always important to research an organization during the internship search and interview process, it’s smart to continue being in the know once you start working. Now that you’re a part of the organization as an intern, you can take your research to new depths.

Network and identify potential mentors.

Hopefully, you will have a great working relationship with your supervisor. However, he or she isn’t the only person within the organization who could impart valuable insight. As you identify professionals whom you respect, attempt to build relationships with them. Networking is all about quality relationships, and the people you build such relationships with at your internship site become advocates for you within their organization and with others in their networks.

Find opportunties to expand your experience.

While you will have assigned tasks and responsibilities in your internship, take advantage of opportunities to go beyond your position description. Offer to help in areas where you believe you can add value. Make suggestions when you identify something that could be improved. You don’t want to overstep your boundaries as an intern, but you also want to demonstrate initiative and learn as much as possible.

Track your accomplishments.

Your internship will give your resume a boost, so don’t take chances with forgetting what you’ve done. Keep a daily or weekly log of your accomplishments. Future employers would like to see what you’ve accomplished in a past work experience, not just what your responsibilities were. Pick out three to five key accomplishments from your log to add to your resume.

Learn about the career field and about yourself.

There is a tremendous amount of knowledge to gain through an internship about both the career and about yourself. Critically evaluate your fit with the career and decide if it’s right for you. During the internship, you will get a glimpse as to the type of professional you will be. Not only is this wonderful personal development, it also serves as great preparation for any interviews you will have in the future. If you pay attention to your growth throughout this experience, you will have plenty of examples to draw upon come interview time.


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Photo by buba69

One Response to “Make It Work: Start Your Internship with Your Eyes on the Prize”
  1. jobs guy says:

    Great tips for aspiring interns!

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