Intern Musings: Making the Most of Your Summer Internship

Intern PhotoIt’s that time of the year again. The cover letters have been written. The resumes have been sent. The interviews are complete, and you finally snagged that summer internship – congrats! After four years and four internships, I’ve definitely learned a few things about navigating the office as a young employee. So whether you’re new to the intern scene or a recent grad, here are some tips for maximizing your experience this summer.

1. Just Say Yes: As I’ve mentioned before in a previous post, my intern motto is “Just Say Yes.” Throughout the summer, you may have the option to sit in on a meeting, work on a new project, learn a computer program, or assist a different department – don’t turn anything down! You’d be amazed by what you can accomplish when you just accept the challenge. Don’t worry if your Excel skills are a little rusty or that you never wrote a white paper before; a whole team of professionals – your coworkers – have your back and will assist you along the way. And on a similar note, take the initiative and ask to be included or work on something new.

2. Find a mentor: When I think of the mentor/mentee relationship, I think of a “wise teacher” and a “young grasshopper.” Whether it’s your boss or a coworker, find someone who can be your guide throughout this whole experience. Your mentor should be someone you admire. It’s someone who can offer you advice, direction, and constructive criticism. Be sure to meet with your mentor frequently. My mentor is my manager, Shelia. Every two weeks, our graphic design intern, Nicole, and I meet with Sheila for check-in chats. We talk about projects we are working on and what we’d like to help out with. We also bring up topics we’ve learned in school, and we ask questions about things we’ve read in the business news. You’ll find this one-on-one time very valuable and supportive.

3. Keep in touch: Once the summer wraps up, it is VITAL to keep in touch during the school year through email and LinkedIn. In doing so, you will continually build relationships and it will be less awkward to ask for a graduate school or job application reference. I like this tip from the Intern Queen: drop a note three times a year – Fall, Spring, and Summer. You can keep it both professional and friendly in nature: give an update on the courses you are taking, ask about your boss’s recent vacation, and see what’s new in the department.

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