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Internships play a critical role in today’s career development process. They serve several key functions that increase a student’s clarity about their fit in the world of work as well as making a student a more competitive applicant for full-time positions. Additionally, if an intern performs well, a full-time job offer may be extended at the end of summer. Even if an internship does not result in an offer, an intern’s co-workers and manager will be some of a student’s most important references when applying for other opportunities. For these reasons, performing well in an internship has never been more important. To help your child make the most of this opportunity, share with him this list of tips developed by Patrick Sullivan, our Associate Director for Career Education & Counseling.
- Work hard – Do whatever is needed and do not assume that your education equips you with so much knowledge that executing low-level projects is beneath you. Don’t be the intern that turns their nose up at the “little” jobs.
- Seek extra work – Show your willingness to go above and beyond the job description. Be proactive in asking for more projects and responsibilities. Look for opportunities to assist co-workers and volunteer for assignments that interest you.
- Develop your skills – Challenge yourself by helping out with projects requiring you to develop skills that you don’t use very often. Observe the skills used by people in the kinds of positions in which you envision yourself working, and polish those skills.
- Be a team player – In today’s workplace, more and more work is project-oriented, which means you will be working on teams. If you are a strong team player, you will be a strong intern.
- Seek feedback – Get a sense for what you do well and what you need to improve. Ask for specific suggestions on how you can get better and make it a point to do so.
- Network with co-workers – Everyone you meet is a potential member of your network. The more people who know you and your work, the more support you will have when it comes to turning your internship into a full-time job. Some of these co-workers will act as workplace references for you should you decide to conduct your job search in another career sector or company.
- Find a mentor – A mentor can make a big difference. If you have the opportunity, try to develop a relationship with someone who can guide and support you in your internship, your efforts to secure a full-time offer and beyond. Ask to take that person to coffee to learn about their experiences and career path.
- Establish yourself as a leader – Some corporations offer structured intern programs that involve social and professional development opportunities in addition to work assignments. Why not take the lead on a professional development program for interns if your organization doesn’t have one? Set up weekly brown bag lunches that feature relevant speakers or informational sessions. You’ll not only expand your (and your peers’) experiences, you’ll make an impression as a leader and a go-getter.
- Don’t get ahead of yourself – When you’re already known as the rock star intern, it’s easy to get complacent or even cocky. Remember that you are always interviewing for the next level. Landing an internship and completing it isn’t enough, in and of itself, to convert the experience into a job offer. How you end an internship is often the difference between one summer’s experience and long-term employment.
- Stay in touch – Leave on the best possible terms. Always thank your manager for the internship. Connect with colleagues on LinkedIn. And if you are interested in working at the organization full-time, by all means, ask about openings.
For more tips, encourage your student to follow our new Professional Confessional blog. This summer, experts from the OPCD, employers, and current student interns will be providing guidance and advice to help current student interns make the most of their experience.
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