Launch your Career

Land Your Dream Internship: How to Set and Reach Your Goals

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

This article is part of the CareerAlley Internship series and focuses on identifying your goals. These are not your “life goals” (although they could be”) but are your goals for your internship.  Defining these will help you understand what you would like to get out of your internship so that you get the most value for your time spent.

Ready to make your internship more than just a resume filler? Setting clear goals can turn a short-term gig into a career-launching experience. Learn to identify what you want, make your mark, and leave an impression that lasts. #InternshipGoalsClick To Tweet

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 on 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.

Steps to Consider

  • Define Clear Objectives: Before applying, pinpoint what you hope to gain from the internship. A clear understanding of your goals will guide your search and application process.
  • Research Companies: Know your prospective employers. Learn about their culture, projects, and what they look for in an intern to ensure a good fit.
  • Customize Your Resume: Tailor your resume to match the internship’s requirements. Highlight relevant experiences and skills that make you a strong candidate.
  • Network: Utilize social media, alumni, and career services to connect with professionals in the industry. A strong network can help you land an interview.
  • Prepare for Interviews: Anticipate common questions and prepare thoughtful questions of your own. This shows your genuine interest in the role and the company.
  • Be Proactive: Once you’ve landed the internship, take the initiative. Volunteer for tasks and projects that align with your career goals.
  • Seek Feedback: Regularly ask for constructive feedback from your supervisor and peers. This helps you grow and leaves a positive impression.
  • Maintain a Professional Attitude: Dress appropriately, arrive on time, and maintain a positive attitude. Your behavior leaves a lasting impression.
  • Build Relationships: Networking doesn’t end after landing the internship. Forming strong professional relationships during your time can lead to future opportunities.
  • Reflect and Adapt: Take time to reflect on your experience and what you’ve learned. Use these insights to refine your career goals moving forward.

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 of 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 industry
  • 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”


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


  • 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 During Your Internship

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 people’s perception of you (which is very important) with your ability to achieve superior results.

Build Your Network

An internship is a 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 your 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 communication skills (written and verbal).

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

Our Pick
TopResume - Jumpstart Your Job Search

From kicking off your career to career transitions to the challenges of the experienced professional — TopResume has resources for you every step of the way. Get started with an expert... get the job... and thrive!

Explore Our Packages
TopResume is our trusted partner. If you make a purchase, we may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you).

What's next?

home popular resources subscribe search

You cannot copy content of this page