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Succeeding at Your Internship

You made it!  An internship is yours!   Now the work really begins.  Remember: this experience can be a potential springboard to a full-time professional position or another internship opportunity.

Tips to Succeed

  • Treat this internship as a professional job.
  • Have a positive attitude, and introduce yourself to everyone you meet.
  • Don’t just hang around the other interns.  Be a team player, but take the time to build your network with professionals on staff, too.
  • Seek advice from supervisors and peers.
  • Conduct informational interviews with various people within the organization.
  • Be professional in your manner, dress and communication  (See below.)
  • Set goals for yourself during your internship; communicate them to your supervisor.
  • Stay busy.  If you run out of things to do, ask your supervisor for more work.
  • Ask questions. Remember, you’re learning!
  • Research.  Ask about and read professional journals.  Some organizations have access to member only articles that your supervisor can forward to you through email.
If you run into a problem during your internship, don’t keep it to yourself.
  • Start with talking to your supervisor. It could be a simple misunderstanding.  If your supervisor is the issue and you are taking an internship for credit, start with your department internship coordinator or the faculty member guiding your internship.
  • Seek advice from your department internship coordinator. If you don’t have one or are conducting a non-credit internship, feel free to schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor at the Career Development Center.
  • Other potential challenges and solutions

Being a Professional

This internship could be your first experience in a professional setting.

  • Watch for cues in the organization’s workplace culture. Maintain a professional image. Ask before you start your internship what professional attire is acceptable to the organization.
  • Remember that your status is different.  Don’t follow the behaviors of folks at an organization who have been there a long time if following means breaking or bending the rules.  (Example: don’t leave early if you find that other employees are doing so or shop online at work even if you see others doing it.)
  • Avoid office politics and office gossip.
  • Don’t have your cell phone out and on.
  • Don’t text while talking with others.
  • Use company equipment strictly for company use. (Example: don’t print your term paper using their equipment or paper.)

Make sure your email communication is polite and error-free. Don't sent out anything you wouldn't want on the front page of the New York Times.