Monthly Archives: October 2013

How to Make an Internship a Successful Experience

How to Make an Internship a Successful Experience
If you ask a successful businessperson about how they got their career start, you will more than likely see a wistful look in their eye as they recall an internship that made a significant impact on their lives.

That is fine, but what is the real secret to making sure your internship does not turn into the “making coffee and running copies” dreaded drudgery? The truth is, what your internship turns into, rests on how proactive you are in creating it truly meaningful and valuable experience.
You can make out of it as much or as little as you would like.
Enterprising people go into internship experiences with high expectations; more importantly, they have a plan. It’s just not enough to suddenly be granted the privilege to walk through the vaunted doors of the company – you need to take the intuitive to define and shape your experience so that you leave of there benefiting from it just as much as your internship sponsor.
So, what does it take to have a successful plan? How do you communicate it to your supervisor?
Here are seven (7) tips to help create a satisfying internship experience that creates easily digestible connecting activities that are highly relevant to prospective employers:

1. Set Up A Planning Meeting With Your Supervisor. On your first day or two, it is important to sit down with your direct supervisor to facilitate a brainstorming session to learn about her/his challenges and set up some structure to what exactly it is that you will be working on for them. Look for opportunities to solve his/her problems and ways you can contribute to the team’s success. Ask for introductions to other employees you may directly interact with or work alongside. Document the details of the meeting

2. Request a Mentor. Going into a new environment can be challenging at best. When you meet with the supervisor, ask if he/she would suggest someone in the office who could help you get your bearings and who may indirectly support you to get settled and acclimatized to the culture and environment. Some large employers actually partner interns with senior mentor/supervisors as well as peer buddies to help the transition into the organization.

3. Suggest Specific Projects That You Will “Own.” Designing some kind of start-to-finish project will give you something to wrap your arms around and provide a concrete example of your abilities. This type of ownership can help you focus as well as highlight your unique skills, knowledge, and abilities. Future employers appreciate seeing some kind of specifics in your resume, so the more you can take on and successfully complete, the more you will have to talk about to potential new companies or employers.

4. Determine What Your Project Outcomes Should Be. In order to know whether the internship or project that you work on is successful or not, you should work together with your supervisor to determine what the outcomes should look like so you have measurable targets. Ask for periodic evaluations and if possible, in writing so you have a clear measure of progress, opportunities for improvement and success.

5. Learn New Skills Proactively. Plan through your internship experience to include opportunities where you can learn new skills to add to your career portfolio. Ask your supervisor about rotating into different roles in the office, find out if you can attend meetings, or even job shadow in a different department. The more you learn, the more diverse your skill sets become to make you a more adaptable, self-managed, and innovative candidate.

6. Build Networking Contacts. Ask your supervisor and co-workers to help you start building your professional network in and out of the office. Leverage your time at the company and ask for connections to key industry people or thought leaders – they can turn into powerful advocates if you treat them with professionalism and respect.

7. Schedule An Internship Exit Interview With Measurements And Reflections. Arrange a sit-down meeting with your supervisor to go over the initial notes and plans (see #1 and #4) to evaluate what you learned, what you accomplished, and how you performed in the internship. Go over the project (see #3) you completed and seek constructive feedback regarding the results and areas of improvement. If appropriate, see if you can include other team members who may also add constructive feedback and evaluation. Your last day should end with a giant slab of cake and ice cream!

By taking these seven (7) steps, you can have a much more fulfilling internship experience that will translate into significant connections, build your employability, skills, experience, and credibility with potential employers or may even make your internship supervisor want to hire you as soon as possible.
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