4 Ways to Maximize Your Internship Experience

One of the most impactful educational experiences available to business students occurs outside the classroom. Internships allow you to deepen your understanding of your business courses, gain hands-on work experience, and develop soft skills that employers seek.

As a business student, you likely understand the value of internships and plan to participate in one or more. The following four tips will help you maximize your internship experience.

Understand Expectations

Set yourself up for success on your internship by fully understanding what you are expected to accomplish. Prior to starting your internship, connect with your campus internship advisor to clearly define your learning outcomes and requirements for college credit.

Similarly, discuss your internship position description with your on-site internship supervisor to determine the specific requirements of your internship. Be sure to ask how your performance will be evaluated. Additionally, ask about the specifications and deadlines for progress reports and for a final report or presentation.  

Manage Your Reputation

Your internship gives you an opportunity to develop your reputation as a young business professional, and productivity is a key factor influencing your reputation. Develop your internship goals based on your position description, and remember that productivity is based on the outcomes you generate rather than on the goals you set.

Cary J. Green, PhD

Conducting yourself in a professional manner also contributes to a solid reputation. Professionalism refers to standards of behavior and performance in the workplace. As an intern, you demonstrate professionalism by arriving on time, and by staying late if necessary to get your job done.

Further, stay focused on your goals throughout the day, and don’t waste time texting or checking your social media while working. Execute all your duties to the best of your ability. Finally, be sure to dress professionally as defined by your workplace culture.

Your attitude also has a great impact on your professional reputation. Constantly exhibit a positive attitude, and show respect for your co-workers. Recognize that interns don’t start at the top of the company, and be willing to accept your work assignments without grumbling.

Your solid reputation will help you build a professional network of business colleagues who can write reference letters and provide endorsements for you. Don’t burn bridges, even if you are convinced that you don’t want to work full-time for your internship provider. Understand that your coworkers’ career paths may lead them to a company for which you may want to work in the future.

Ask For Feedback

The learning that occurs through internships often comes as a result of the feedback you receive. Ask your supervisor and coworkers for input on your performance and your ability to adapt to workplace culture. Solicit feedback throughout your internship rather than waiting for your final evaluation. Reflect on the feedback you receive, and commit to making the necessary changes.

Additionally, ask coworkers and your supervisor for advice on the experience and knowledge needed to succeed in your chosen business concentration. Ask which skills are essential for career success, and ask for input on beneficial college courses to take. Use this information to guide your selection of courses and to prioritize your extracurricular activities.

Document Your Experience

Keep a journal of your internship experience, and create a portfolio to document the skills you develop, the knowledge you construct, and the insight you gain. Include specific examples of how you used feedback to improve your performance. Be sure to ask your supervisor for a reference letter, and place it in your portfolio. Also, include in your portfolio a copy of your final report or presentation. (Be mindful of intellectual property and non-disclosure rules.)  

Continue to add to your portfolio throughout your collegiate career, and use it to document your skills and experience on job applications. Doing so will make you stand out as exceptional to hiring managers.

By integrating leadership skills, soft skills, and academic success skills, Dr. Green empowers students to enhance their academic performance while building career-readiness skills that employers seek. Visit http://www.caryjgreen.com/ for information on his new book, Success Skills for High School, College, and Career. Connect with Cary on LinkedIn.



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