Five Tips for a Successful Internship

Obtaining an internship is a great accomplishment and takes just as much ambition and preparation as landing a new job. All your hard work, research, and preparation have awarded you with this experience. Here are five tips so you can make the most of it.

  1. Maintain a Professional Mindset and Work Ethic

First impressions go a long way. Consider your internship as an audition for the big role: your dream job. Have a professional mindset right from the start and give it your very best. Use your talents, strengths, and skills to their fullest potential to add value to the organization. You are gaining valuable experience in your field of interest and adding to your accomplishments. Do your best to contribute to the organization in meaningful ways that will leave a mark and positive change. This will result in the ability to share examples of your work and contributions in a future interview for that dream job.

  1. Go the Extra Mile

Do more than just your job description. Share your thoughts, ideas, and personal views. Employers will value your new, unbiased perspective. Make a lasting impression by offering to participate in a project or initiative that interests you. You could even offer to lead something new that you feel would benefit the organization and make a lasting positive impression. As a result, you would be able to tell a future employer about your initiative and teamwork.

  1. Ask Questions and Don’t Forget to Learn

Don’t get caught up in simply crossing off the checklist of tasks in your internship and rushing out the door when the clock strikes 5 p.m. Learn new things that interest you and ask plenty of questions. It is easy to feel anxious, timid, or embarrassed to ask questions, but this experience is about you, your growth, and learning. You will never learn or grow if you do not ask, listen, and participate. Your internship is a place to take a chance, learn something, and put yourself in a situation that intimidates you so you can grow.

  1. Request Feedback and Mentoring

We all need feedback and mentors. Do not be reluctant to ask for feedback. Others who are more experienced will often share advice that will help you to improve and feel more confident. Not all feedback is “bad,” and we must understand that most of the time a little constructive criticism goes a long way in helping us to make a change, deal with change, or improve upon our work and skills. Ask those giving your feedback to serve as a mentor to you. Shadow them in their role for a day or a few hours and learn from them. Mentoring happens in many ways and often we don’t even realize it. Maintain your mentorship relationships because you never know when they may become helpful in the future.

  1. Network and Make Connections

Meet and learn from as many people as you can during your internship, both internally and externally. You never know where one relationship will lead you. For every connection you make, that one person may know several others who can also help you in your professional goals. Attend events, participate, and ask for introductions. You will build your network in no time. Create a LinkedIn profile, join groups, follow companies, ask questions, and connect with folks you have met in person as well. Don’t forget to add your internship to your experiences on LinkedIn!


Tammy Spenziero is the director of career services at Excelsior College.