Making Your Internship More Than a Typical Summer Job
Summer vacation is upon us, and as a college student you have several options as to how you are going to spend the next couple of months. Maybe you are taking summer courses to accelerate graduating, or you may be taking time to travel. You may have found a summer job at the local hardware store, or you may have decided to get a jump start on building your resume by finding an internship in a field that interests you. If you have decided to be proactive in building your resume by seeking out and obtaining an internship, make sure that you don’t squander it. While listing your summer internship on a resume can get your foot in the door, you need to invest in the experience to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to land the job. The following ideas will help you to turn your internship from a typical summer job into a chance to further your future career opportunities.
Set goals: Before starting your internship, set goals that outline what you would like to accomplish throughout the summer. Are you hoping to improve your communication skills, or do you simply want to learn more about the industry before deciding on a career path? If you are struggling to set goals for yourself, arrange a time to meet with the manager that you will be working with to discuss realistic goals that you should be working towards throughout your internship.
Immerse yourself: One mistake that interns tend to make is allowing nerves and intimidation to hold them back from immersing themselves in the culture of a company. Although it can feel less intimidating to stick with your peers, make sure to break away from the interns who are spending their summers goofing around and making coffee. Instead, spend your time making connections with successful full time employees. By making these connections, you will have the opportunity to observe the culture of the company first-hand and decide if the industry or company itself is a good fit for you. You will also make meaningful contacts that may serve as professional references as you apply for jobs in the future.
Build confidence: Many recent college grads lack real world job experience, which often translates into a lack of confidence while applying for jobs after graduation; however, an internship is an opportunity to build confidence in your desired field before you even graduate. The best way to build confidence that will help you to land a job after college is to do a little investigating. Find out what employers in the field are looking for in a candidate, what skills are required, what will stand out on a resume in your desired field, and how to answer industry specific interview questions.
Develop new skills: An internship is the perfect time to take advantage of any training or mentorship opportunities that are available through the company that you are interning for. Use these trainings and the guidance of experienced professionals in the field to develop new skills that you can highlight on your resume.
Take notes: Just because school is out for summer doesn’t mean that you should neglect taking notes. Overlooking the importance of writing down the details of your internship can lead to drawing a blank when it is time to describe your experience to a potential employer. By taking notes however, you are creating a reference tool that you can review as you are creating your resume or going on interviews.
Request an evaluation: Although submitting intern evaluations is common practice for companies as college interns return to school in the fall, don’t miss an opportunity to impress by asking them for an evaluation of your work. This willingness to hear constructive criticism regarding your performance will help you as you start searching for post grad jobs. As we all know, a popular interview question involves describing your strengths and weaknesses. Use your intern evaluation to find the answer to this question, and show potential employers your initiative by giving concreate examples of the steps you have taken to improve upon your weaknesses.
If you have chosen to spend your summer interning, you have already made a step towards success in the real world. Make sure that your intern experience is more than a typical summer job. Make it an experience that you can use to jumpstart or further your career.