Tips For Succeeding At Your Internship

So you started your internship, you’re settled in at your cube, you’ve finished orientation and gone through all your emails…now what? The road to a successful internship is not always laid out for you and time is of the essence.  Here are a few key ways that you can find success and stand out at your new place of employment.

1. Network, network, network!
Make it a point to meet any and everyone you can while at your internship. These informal appointments don’t have to be longer than thirty minutes at a time, but should be a way for you to learn more about your field and that individual’s life. Discover what path they have taken to reach the point they are at now, where they see themselves next and how their expertise can help you succeed. Never forget to add the people you meet on LinkedIn so you can stay connected long term!

2. Find a mentor and use them.
The key to having a good mentor is someone who has achieved successes in your field of choice. Some internships will provide you with a mentor to work with who can quickly connect you with individuals who have achieved what you’re looking to in your career path. That should not keep you from finding an informal mentor you connect with on personal and professional levels. If your mentor was assigned, make sure you speak with them at least every other week and leave a positive impression.

3. Show teamwork and leadership.
Yes, you need to be able to do both. Particularly if you are working in a business field, most of the projects that you work on involve working with a group of people who may have many more years of experience than you. You also may lead an initiative you know nothing about and work with a team of people who are experts in it.

4. Stay professional.
This may seem obvious, but oftentimes people forget how important it is. Your boss may have a fun personality and tell you everything about their life, but never forget, they already have a job while you are still seeking one. Look and act the part every day at work. Remember, just because its casual Friday doesn’t mean you can wear flip-flops, ripped jeans and a t-shirt. Dress things up so you look chic and not cheap.

5. Ask for help.
Your boss knows that you are in an academic setting the majority of the year. Determining the best resources within your company is a great way to network and do an amazing job on your summer projects.

What are the challenges you’re facing as you begin your internship experience?  Tell us and we’ll dish advice in the comments.  

Stevie Coleman

About Stevie Coleman

Stevie Coleman is an HR Business Partner based in New York City. She also has her own career consulting business based off of her 6 years of HR industry experience. Stevie worked for 3.5 years as a Career Services Paraprofessional for The Career Center during her undergraduate career and 1.5 years as a Graduate Adviser for both undergraduate and graduate students in the Gies College of Business while she earned her master's degree. Stevie attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for both a Bachelor of Science in Management and a Master of Human Resources and Industrial Relations. She's passionate about connecting and coaching people professionally.
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2 Responses to Tips For Succeeding At Your Internship

  1. I currently hold a summer position at a small law firm and can’t decide if I love it or hate it!

    My technical position is the receptionist so of course I expected to be answering calls, handling invoices, and random errands. In addition to that, I am supposed to handle his marketing to bring more clients, plan seminars for him, find community service for clients, and a ton of other things that go outside of the duties of receptionist.

    No I am currently majoring in Mass Media, so I especially enjoy the challenge of having to recreate his marketing strategies, but doing all of that can be extremely overwhelming. In his world you either receive an “A” or an “F” and there’s nothing in between.

    I sometimes miss deadlines that are to no fault of my own but that doesn’t matter to him. I don’t want to quit because I love a challenge but how to I keep from going crazy?! I want to impress him so badly, but I keep coming up short handed. 🙁

    • Stevie Coleman Stevie Coleman says:

      Hey Brittany!

      Unfortunately it seems like you are going through something that could have a major impact on your future for two reasons: One, this experience could make you a bit jaded about your field of interest and two, if your boss doesn’t see how awesome you are because you have too much work! What I recommend that you do is discuss with him what items are highest on his list of priorities and make sure you align your goals with his. If you have a deadline tomorrow to create a community service opportunity for a client, but you really want to work on a marketing strategy due next Tuesday, stop and think about what really matters in that moment. Fortunately, this position allows you to do something that you love, so kudos to you for finding it! The trick is to make all your deadlines, even if you have to work outside of normal business hours doing something not as enjoyable. Missing deadlines when you first start out is never a good thing because you want to leave the most positive impression possible. Fret not because summer is only half way over and there is still time to knock this internship out of the park. As long as your boss thinks you’re doing a good job, regardless of the type of work you’re doing, he has connections at larger companies you could be working for next summer. Remember that if you decide you hate this position, it was only a step along the way and not a permanent stop. You won’t go crazy once you figure out the best way to manage your time and still enjoy yourself, but it may take a little trial and error. If you still feel like you’re spread too thin, confront your boss about the number of tasks you’re being given and if there is any way to lighten the load. Explain that you feel you are being given more than you can handle and suggest what you think is a task that should be removed from your plate. Be confident should you have a meeting like this so he can know you’re serious and value the opportunity regardless of the amount of work you’re being given. I’m confident you’ll do well this summer and wish you luck! If you have further questions, please feel free to comment again. Hope this helped!



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