The 5 best tips to get the most out of your internship

Congratulations on getting this internship!

Whether you’re a student just exploring your career options or a graduate student confident in your ideal job, an internship offers exciting opportunities, a hands-on understanding of the company, the industry, and most importantly to attain for yourself.

Internships vary greatly depending on the company and industry. For example, some startups may not be able to develop a comprehensive internship program and require all employees to provide input autonomously, which can be exciting for some but intimidating for those who need more structure. In some industries there are specific entry-level tasks for interns, and contact with management is only possible long after they have been employed in the company. Some companies offer structured internship programs that can resemble a school course.

Regardless of those differences, here are five tips to help you get the most out of your experience.

1. Be open-minded about the work you will do during the internship

What you will work on during your internship has probably been explicitly designed with the teams and negotiated in advance. Companies consider factors such as ease of entry into the project, the stability of the group, the manager’s experience in onboarding new talent, and what can be done during the internship so that the intern can feel a sense of accomplishment.

Often the interns do not have the opportunity to work on the highest priority initiatives that the company is known for because the team cannot hire a new and temporary person. That means you’re unlikely to work with a specific manager or role that you envisioned in a specific department. But don’t neglect your overall experience. This will give you a good sense of whether you want to continue working at the company as realistically you will have to work on projects that are not your first choice. In addition, it will be helpful to get to know your future colleagues more fully if you later focus on another area.

2. Even if you don’t come back, make a positive impression

It’s hard to imagine when you’re constantly meeting new people, but as your career progresses, the world will start to feel smaller and smaller: there are surprising connections and bonds between industries and roles. This means that your actions today, especially negative ones, may have repercussions later that you didn’t anticipate. While many are willing to overlook minor infractions while studying in a university setting, your behavior in the corporate setting may be judged from a different perspective even if you are still a student. Show you can adapt to the work environment: stick to the employee handbook, come to work like a colleague not a disruptive intern, and leave any entitlement at home.

3. Get to know your fellow interns

Many interns focus too much on getting to know the company’s employees and management and miss the opportunity to meet other interns. The cohort you’re with likely has many things in common that brought you together: similar interests, goals, and challenges. Regardless of whether you work together in the company or not, your paths will probably continue to cross in the future. Professional success requires not only hard work, but also a strong network, and the sooner you make the effort to build that, the more reinforcement you can tap into. Take the time to get to know your fellow interns, and if you’re an introvert, opt for 1:1 or small group activities.

4. Remember that you are also interviewing the company

While some intern experiences can be emblematic of everyday life, many companies attract top talent by offering interns the opportunity to interact with the best managers and/or the most interesting problems. Get out of the internship bubble and learn about the culture and values ​​of the company. Request a meeting with employees not involved in an internship program at all levels and departments and be prepared to ask thoughtful questions: What makes them stay in the job? How was your professional development? This approach can also help you stand out as a genuinely interested intern, especially if you’re less vocal in a group setting.

5. Evaluate the lifestyle outside of work holistically

You may consider moving to a new city if you land a full-time position with the company. If so, as a potential resident, be sure to take the time to explore the city. Companies’ internship schedules are often jam-packed with guided tours, excursions and events, and you get little or only the wrong impression of life outside of work. For many, leaving for the first time a structured academic environment that offered a strong sense of community and access to resources can be a difficult transition. Can you realistically imagine building a community in the new city alongside work? Do you have access to hobbies and social activities that you enjoy? Do you feel safe? What would the commute to work look like with a realistic housing option that you can afford with your starting salary? While you may be working late hours or not planning to live in the city for long periods of time, it is important to consider the impact of where you live on your well-being.

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