7 Tips for Maximizing Your Internship

Internships are more than a summer job or a resume booster; they’re great opportunities for growth and development in the area you wish to pursue after school. Take full advantage of everything they have to offer, and you’ll learn valuable skills to make you an employee everyone wants to hire.

Here are 7 things you can to do maximize your internship:

  1. Take it Seriously

Future employers will view your internship as a trial run of what they can expect from you. Give it everything you’ve got, just like you would when you really get hired. Whether the internship pays or not, having the experience will give you an edge over other candidates with the same degree.

  1. Keep a Record of Everything You Do

One of the best things I did during my internship was keep a record of my accomplishments and projects. Be sure to keep any published press releases, blog posts, or other samples of work to build a portfolio.

  1. Accept All Opportunities

Regardless of whether or not the task is related to your position, accept the opportunity graciously. Your manager will appreciate it, and you never know when you might find a niche that you hadn’t previously thought of pursuing by taking on something outside your normal duties.

  1. Ask Questions

You should always take the initiative to research first, but don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if necessary. Many employers would rather you ask for assistance than flounder and turn in something they can’t use. Asking questions also shows you’re invested and can be trusted with projects, which may lead to more opportunities.

  1. Get Feedback

Set up periodic meetings with your supervisor, if possible, to review your performance. Though constructive criticism can be tough to swallow, it’s necessary to grow and become an excellent employee.

If periodic meetings aren’t possible, be sure to get at least one at the end of your internship. These questions to ask your internship supervisor are a great start, but be sure to come up with more specific and relevant ones, too.

  1. Stay Connected to Build Your Network

You never know when you connections will help you down the road, so stay in touch as best as you can. You likely won’t be texting your manager every day, but there are plenty of other ways to stay in touch after your internship.

  • Connect on LinkedIn. You can network professionally, and coworkers can endorse you for skills you exhibited or learned during your internship or give you public recommendations!
  • Engage in other Social Networks. Social media sites like Facebook or Twitter are great ways to stay connected in a less formal manner. I frequently interact with old coworkers/managers online and have built a strong relationship with them, some of whom were able to give me glowing recommendations when it came time to finding a job.
  • It’s great to check in every once in a while to maintain your network, and email is a great option if you’re not comfortable interacting on social media. I’ve sent emails to old coworkers on several occasions. Sometimes I find a particularly great article they would like, others I just send a brief email when congratulations are in order. Just be sure to keep your emails short and genuine, as they will likely be read at work.
  1. Ask for a Reference and/or Letter of Recommendation

If you’ve done well there’s no reason you won’t get a letter of recommendation. Most supervisors will offer to be a reference, but it’s still good to stay connected. That way, you’ll have a stronger relationship and they’ll be able to tailor the recommendation to the specific job you’re applying for.

When it comes to advancing your education and pursuing your career, there’s nothing better than an internship. Getting hands on, practical experience in your field will give you a much better chance of finding a job. Better yet, if you work hard and follow these tips, you’ll become the ideal candidate everyone wants to hire. And hey, given that many companies hire their interns, you may not have to go looking at all!

sarahSarah Landrum graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a PR Specialist writing in her free time. Sarah is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping young professionals navigate the work world and find happiness and success in their careers. You can find Sarah tweeting @SarahLandrum 

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  • Jaime Izaks

    Yes! Ask questions! Ask as many as you can. You’re a learning intern. Wonderful article, Sarah. I’m definitely passing this onto the interns at my franchise PR agency.

  • Noelle Langenkamp

    The advice that I felt was
    most beneficial advised internees to keep in touch with their supervisors as
    well as their co-workers. This alone can really
    expand your network in the field and really gives you a competitive advantage
    of other candidates. Throughout the post it was mentioned that internships are
    far more important than a summer job or building your resume, an internship is
    about getting experience in the field as well as being exposed to other facets
    of work. I could not agree more with that advice and often times feel that
    college students participate in internships a lot of times solely to build
    their resume.

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  • Bri

    I think this is so important to think about when starting an internship or even just a new part time job. Don’t just do it to do it, really taking advantage of every aspect of it can really help you in the long run. You never know, asking those extra questions and taking that extra step can open doors for you that you never even expected would. Getting experience is great but if you aren’t taking full advantage of every aspect of it you might as well not be doing it to a certain extent. Thanks for giving me an extra reminder with this post about taking full advantage of every opportunity that comes my way and putting in that little bit of extra effort. Sometimes we need to be reminded of these things.

  • Madison Chackel

    This article is more important now than ever as internships have normalized as a common step prior to entering the workforce. However, as internships have normalized, it seems as if the true value of internships has diminished. It is so often seen as just a resume builder. This blog post is a great reminder on how valuable internships can be and how to make the most out of this incredible experience. I like that you touched on keeping in touch with employers and coworkers through social media, as the communication aspect and use of social media is often overlooked. I also think that being active with the organization or employer on social media can allow the intern to continue staying involved with the changes made within the organization and stay up-to-date in the industry. Therefore, when applying for a job post-graduation, you are up to speed on all of the changes made to the company, both internally and externally. Showing up to a job interview already knowing the company’s position in the industry allows your employer to know that you have continued to make professional growth and you can be fully prepared to share your improvements for he company and demonstrate all you have to offer. One thing that I would like to have your feedback on is the aspect of a mentorship flourishing out of an internship and how this can benefit both the intern and the organization with which they were involved with. I would also like your feedback on how an intern can create the conversation with his or her supervisor about the possibility of working for them in the future. Thank you for your insight on the industry and thank you for touching on a subject that is a great reminder for the many interns in this industry.

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  • Hannah Engle

    Knowing following your supervisors on their social media accounts is acceptable is a great way to get more involved with the industry. It is also a great way to connect and network with those you may not have found otherwise. Thanks for the great read!

  • Melissa Barnes

    I’m applying for internships right now, and these tips are helping me find the right internship for me. Plus, it will be good to know how to get the most out of my internship when I do get one. Thank you!

  • Chandler DeGeorge

    I recently accepted a PR and event planning internship. I have often worried about my future, and how this internship will benefit me in the long run. These tips will come in handy while I’m an intern.

    The most important tip I took away from this post was to ask questions. I believe an internship is about learning and gaining experience. The best way to make the most of an internship is to learn from someone who has been in my shoes before. Through this internship I hope to learn not only what someone in the PR field experiences day-to-day, but also what it takes to be the best at what you do.

    I also think it is important to build a network. The more people you know, the more connections you have. I think a resume is great, but making a relationship with someone who can speak on your behalf will boost your chances of getting the job.

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