Internships are now almost the “must have” for high school and college students. Potential employers are looking for people who have had real-world experience. It is not just the fact that you have done an internship that is important but how you have made the most of your experience that can make the difference in a job or college interview.
5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship
- Get a mentor. A mentor acts as your counselor, guide, tutor, or coach as you continue through your internship. So when you land that internship, ask about having a mentor. Most organizations understand the value of the mentoring relationship and will easily find a mentor for you.
- Ask questions. Don’t be shy. Your supervisor doesn’t know what you don’t know or what you need to know. Asking questions will help your supervisor give you the right tasks and set you in the right direction. It also shows that you are interested in what you’re doing.
- Take on tasks without being asked. There is always downtime in any job. Don’t just wait for someone to give you some work. Pay attention to what others are doing and ask if there is anything you can do to help. People will know you’re serious about your internship and you will earn their respect.
- Add to your resume. Keep track of what you’ve done in your internship and make sure you add your new skills and accomplishments to your resume.
- Practice networking. Your internship is a great time to build your network of professional contacts. Stay in touch with those you have worked with and with your mentor. You can easily do this through social media sites. People you have worked with can often put you in contact with employment opportunities in the future.
Be an active intern and when your internship is over, take the time to reflect on all that you have learned and done. You then will be able to talk about you experience with confidence in a job or college admissions interview…and don’t forget to thank the people who helped you.
JOAN E. McLACHLAN launched her career with internships almost thirty years ago in New York City and has been working with students and school internship programs ever since. She is the coauthor of Get An Internship and Make the Most of It: Practical Information for High School and Community College Students, Internships for Today’s World: A Practical Guide For High Schools and Community Colleges, and is the director of Internship Quest, LLC, a company that provides consulting services and materials for quality internship programs. Find the book here