Launch your Career

5 Steps to a Great Internship – Identify Your Goals

We may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

Our second article in the CareerAlley series “5 Steps to a Great Internship” (don’t forget to take a look at the first article, “5 Steps to a Great Internship – Overview“), focuses on identifying your goals. These are not your “life goals” (although they could be”), but are your goals for your internship.  These will help you define what you would like to get out of your internship so that you get the most value for your time spent.

Ideally, your internships should be aligned with your college major and your career goals.  While having “any” internship on your resume is better than no internship, your focus should be those internships that will provide the most value. Set goals that allow you to learn about your likes, dislikes and perceptions. This is your “audition” for the real world, treat it as an opportunity to get a job offer when you graduate. Define your goals:

Suggested Reading: Eight Steps for Getting the Internship You Want

Identify Your Goals:

  • Career and Internship Goals – Defining your goals is key to helping define your internship opportunities.
    • Self-Assessment – Take a hard look at yourself and make a list of your strengths and how you might leverage those strengths in your career.
    • Your Major – If you’ve declared a major, then you have a really good idea what you would like to do as your line of work.
    • Internship Goals – Make a list of what you would like to accomplish during the internship. This will help you select the right opportunity as well as help during the interview process.
  • Industry Goals – Based on your major and career aspirations:
    • Select an industry that will offer internships that are aligned with your college major
    • Use the opportunity to determine if you truly like your preferred industyr
    • Select a company within your chosen industry that is a leader and well regarded
  • Define Your Goals: From the outset, you should define your overall goals, this is key for your interviews.
    • To gain experience
    • To gain an understanding of the industry and markets
    • To learn about working relationships in an organization
    • To leverage your skills in the “real world”
  • Responsibilities – Take on some real responsibilities and key deliverables.
    • This is your opportunity to show your “temporary” employers what you can do and what you can deliver
    • This is your “audition” for the real world
  • Skills:
    • Select an internship that will allow you to enhance the skills you have as well as the opportunity to learn new skills
    • Include specific skill related goals
    • Focus on your weaknesses  – include goals that will allow you to improve your weaker skills
  • Feedback – Take the good with the bad. This is your opportunity to learn what others think of you. Request constructive feedback on a regular basis.  Don’t confuse peoples perception of you (which is very important) with your ability to achieve superior results
  • Build Your Network – An internship is the perfect opportunity to build your professional network.  Make an effort to make connections with individuals who have the experience and skills to help you in your career
  • Learning About You – Your internship will change your perception of the working world as well as you likes and dislikes. Create goals that will allow you to:
    • Confirm what you like to do (and what you don’t like to do)
    • Experiment with things that are outside of your comfort zone
    • Test your communications skills (written and verbal).

Setting internship goals is key to not only landing a great internship, but also helping you get the most of your experience.

Career Tip of the Day: Fast Track Your Career While Still in College

We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

Good luck in your search,


New Careeralley Full Logo Small Cropped

What's next?

home popular resources subscribe search