How do I Make the Most of Internship Experience?

Lori Smith

Generally, the key to a successful internship experience is motivation. In other words, if you exhibit an excellent work ethic and a positive attitude, you may benefit from a satisfying opportunity that potentially propels your career into a new, exiting direction. Since the best asset of a company is usually the staff, the team members of an organization are often instrumental in teaching you the skills needed to flourish while you make the most out of your internship. As with most jobs — the harder you work, the better the reward.

Working as an intern at an organization is an opportunity to determine whether a particular career is one that an intern actually wishes to pursue.
Working as an intern at an organization is an opportunity to determine whether a particular career is one that an intern actually wishes to pursue.

In the beginning of an internship, employers usually assign mundane jobs, such as filing or data entry. Whatever you are asked to do, complete it to the best of your ability. This improves your chances of obtaining more desirable assignments. Remember to be proactive. There is nothing wrong with asking for challenging work, as long as your other duties have been fulfilled. Managers usually appreciate it when interns take initiative.

While you may be tempted to focus solely on your area of interest, doing so offers only a limited view of the possibilities, and the bigger picture might be lost. During an internship, you may have the opportunity to see how other departments function. The success of one area of a company often depends on the performance of others. Gaining first-hand knowledge of how the divisions interconnect can lead to a well-rounded internship experience.

Take the time to speak with employees who are amiable, especially those who currently work in a capacity that matches your professional aspirations. In addition to the internship experience, you can gain from their knowledge and direction. They can usually offer valuable advice and insight into the industry, from a completely different perspective than what you may have learned during the course of your studies. They may also be able to introduce you to business contacts or include you in their networking endeavors.

Whether you have been hired as a paid intern, or accepted an offer that is only rewarded with college credits, it is important to take the job seriously and maintain a good work ethic throughout your time at the company. It may be tempting to let others take the lead, but if you put forth your maximum effort, management will usually reciprocate and invest the time to train you appropriately. When you complete your internship experience and leave a lasting impression with your boss, it often leads to future career opportunities and a positive reference to include in your resume.

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