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5 Ways to Ensure Your Internship is a Meaningful Experience

Internships during your college career and a year or so after college are a dime a dozen. As you probably know, some internships provide amazing opportunities while other internships can be a waste of time. Nevertheless, you can still turn any internship into an experience that works in your favor and enables you to get a good job in the future. It’s really all about how you approach it (both before and during the internship). No matter where you intern, you’ll have to be proactive. Here’s how:

1. Start your search early, leverage connections: 

  • Getting the “right” internship, or one that will provide the best experience can be challenging. Start your internship search early and leverage your connections.
    • Your professors are likely to know where there are some opportunities that match your interests. They will know people in the industry and may even have a list of intern opportunities.
    • Your College Career office will have the best leads. Companies will contact them directly with opportunities.
    • Network with friends, family and fellow students.  Family members are often the best source of intern opportunities.

2. Get hands-on experience and leave with a mentor:

The value of internships goes far beyond learning specific skills. Think of it as a networking opportunity. What every soon-to-graduate student needs is a mentor in the working world. Most established professionals in any industry are more than willing to help you develop your own career. Of course, finding a mentor through your internship is not as easy as just saying, “Will you be my mentor?” It’s about making acquaintances, chatting people up, and putting yourself out there. It’s about building relationships.

3. Be grateful and stay in touch:

Of course, you want to stay in touch with your mentor and others you worked with during your internship. Make contacts within the organization for which you are working and keep in touch. Connect via LinkedIn and send a personal thank you em after leaving your internship. They did, after all, provide you with a career-building experience. Gratitude and communication go a very long way once you’re out there trying to find a job in the future. More than just that, it’s the right thing to do.

4. Learn by asking questions:

This is your opportunity to learn first hand.  Ask as many questions as feasible to ensure you not only understand how best to do your role, but to understand how it fits in to the department and company. Ask how your coworkers get additional training and knowledge about their jobs and do the same.

5. Take initiative:

Don’t wait for work to come to you, once you’ve finished the tasks given to you ask for more tasks.  Most organizations have many pending projects and tasks.  Taking initiative will show your manager that you are serious about your job and that you want to learn.  The more you learn, the more that can go on your resume.  Have some ideas? Speak up, just because you are an intern doesn’t mean that you might not have some excellent ideas.

Of course, sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your internship might be something of a bust. But if you approach it with the right attitude, you’d be surprised by the rewards you might reap later. Good luck!

– more – Internship Resources

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Good luck in your search,

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