Three Tips to Get the Most From Your Internships
By Garrick Nichols
As a senior and CSC, I’ve been asked, “How do you get the most out of your internships?”. While this answer can vary for everyone, after five summer internships, I have found that I typically give the same three suggestions: always make room for improvement, understand your professional brand, and find how you like to relax.
As an intern, you aren’t typically expected to be perfect, and moreover, you should never think you are either. Instead, think of constant improvement as a goal and humility’s more proactive counterpart. While it’s important to be honest about our shortcomings, it is far more valuable to understand them and then take concrete steps to address them. You can try introducing improvement into your repertoire by starting with small steps. You can ask your manager for feedback after projects, ask peers for second opinions, or grow your skill set in your downtime through certifications, courses, or activities. Whatever method you choose, it’s important to allow yourself the space and opportunity to continue evolving and growing.
Part of your personal growth, will also most likely encompass the growth of your professional brand as well. Asking yourself how you want people such as your intern peers, coworkers, and managers to perceive you is an important first step. Your reputation is an accumulation of impressions that can stem from a variety of sources including email communication, in-person meetings, your attire, and much more. By strategically branding yourself, you increase the chances of standing out (for the right reasons) and this may even influence your receiving of a return offer. Enhancing and managing your personal and professional brands are important, but can also be draining at times. Therefore, while it’s an important endeavor, it also leads to my final suggestion: find what “downtime” means to you and make room for it!
To me, there is nothing better than starting my day at the gym where I can clear my mind and plan my day while exercising. Personally, working out gives me the energy I need to show up at work focused and ready for anything thrown my way. Finding what works for you to de-stress and working it into your schedule can make your overall internship experience much more enjoyable. Whether it’s reading a book, walking, or cooking dinner, find what works for you and make it a priority.
Everyone’s internship experiences are unique and there are valuable takeaways from every experience. I’ve found that by focusing on these three areas, I’ve been able to enjoy myself, the internship, and the overall time-frame, much more. Ultimately, find what makes sense for you and set your own goals in order to ensure your successful experiences and development.