Preparing For Your Internship
Research the organization. Read your organization’s website, newsletters, social media profiles, and annual reports. Check out their LinkedIn page. Google the name of the organization and click on the “News” tab to see when they’ve been in the news recently.
Think about your goals for the internship. Give some thought as to what you want to learn or accomplish in your internship. Be sure to share these goals with your supervisor during an early one-on-one meeting.
Know the answers to certain fundamental questions about your internship. If you don’t know the answer to these questions, reach out to your supervisor prior to your first day.
- What time should you arrive for your first day?
- What is the expected dress code of the organization?
- Is there anything in particular you should bring on the first day?
During the first week of your internship, have a conversation with your supervisor about the following:
Schedule a weekly one-on-one meeting with your supervisor. Right from the start, establish a weekly meeting for you to have one-on-one time with your supervisor to discuss project plans, address questions, and receive regular feedback.
Determine communication preferences of your supervisor. If you have a question about a project, what is your supervisor’s preferred method of communication (Email? Stop-by their office? Another method?). If your supervisor is unavailable, who should you reach out to if you have immediate questions about a project?
Learn the organization’s goals. What are the top goals and priorities of your department/organization? What will be your role in helping to achieve those goals?
Establish learning objectives with your supervisor. Share with your supervisor at least three (3) goals that you hope to achieve by the completion of the internship. See if these goals are realistic and if so, how you can make sure they get accomplished. Does your supervisor agree with these goals and if not, what changes do they recommend?
Learn the policies and procedures of the organization. What is the policy if you have a doctor’s appointment or other mandatory obligation? How is the organization handling teleworking options? What other policies and procedures should you be aware of?
Conduct informational interviews with your coworkers. Discuss with your supervisor if they would be okay with you conducting weekly, 30-minute informational interviews with coworkers who have jobs similar to the ones you want to explore further. Use this time to get insight into what it is like to work in that job. What do they love about it? What don’t they love about it? What kind of advice would they have for a current student thinking about pursuing that type of work?
Stay organized and manage your time wisely. Take notes during all meetings and keep to-do lists of tasks and deadlines. Prioritize your projects and always complete them on time. If you are feeling overwhelmed with too many projects, talk to your supervisor about strategies to prioritize your work.
Keep track of your accomplishments. Keep a list of the projects and tasks you’ve worked on and your achievements. This will come in handy for resumes and job interviews later on.
Say thank you. Throughout your internship experience, find time to thank those who help you along the way. When you are nearing the end of your internship, find a meaningful way to say thank you to your supervisor and other key colleagues you collaborated with the most. This may be as simple as writing a thank you note or bringing in homemade food.
Reflect on your experience. Reflect on your experience and determine your next steps. Do you want to find another internship in a similar field? Explore something completely new? What skills have you gained during your internship? Update your resume with your experiences and accomplishments.