A summer internship can look great on your resume when it comes time to trade the classroom for a cubicle and get your first “real” job. But that summer internship should be more than just resume padding.
Whether your internship was with an established company, such as IBM or with a rising startup, such as ngmoco, you should walk away from it having learned some stuff about your industry of interest, about working in the professional world and about what you want in a company and a job.
Check out these four ways to make the most of your summer internship.
Observe everything during your internship. What is the culture of the company? How do things get done? How do people interact?
A summer internship is a great way to get a slice-of-life look at how a particular company works – a kind of professional preview. All companies are different, of course, but your experiences and observations while at your internship company will give you a better idea of the kind of company you want to work for fulltime.
Career site CareerBliss recommends that professionals keep a job journal. Summer interns can keep a similar internship journal to stay organized, jot down ideas and impressions and generally keep a record of the experience. Such a journal can come in handy later on.
2. Establish a Reputation
There are two kinds of interns: those who skate by doing the bare minimum and those who really dig in and go above and beyond. In your internship, strive to be the later. Use your summer internship to get an early start on creating your professional reputation.
Look for opportunities to take on more tasks. Share your ideas and opinions (when appropriate, and tactfully!). And, most importantly, do everything you say you’ll do. A good reputation will provide a strong foundation upon which to build your career.
3. Make Connections
People often find jobs through personal and professional connections. A summer internship is your chance to add a few valuable professional connections to your network.
By the time your internship is nearing its end, you’ll have a good idea of who would be open to staying in touch with you. Get contact info and add them on LinkedIn. Later on, these people will be great resources for tips and advice. Also, they can provide references and maybe even job leads!
4. Get Feedback
No news is not good news. Try to get feedback on your performance often (without annoying your supervisor and coworkers, of course!). Be open about difficulties and ask for guidance and advice. Set up a meeting mid-way through your internship and discuss how you’ve done so far and how the remainder of the internship should go. Meetings can be short and sweet – or communication can be via phone or email. The point is to seek criticism and adjust your performance accordingly.
An internship can not only help you get a job – it could lead to one. Check out these tips on how to turn your internship into a fulltime position