Navigating an Internship from Start to Finish

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Sydney Fredette
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Interning has been one of the most valuable experiences I have gained during college. I was even fortunate enough to get an internship abroad. No matter what your ideal internship setting is, the most essential steps in seeking an internship include: searching, preparing, performing, and following-up. Navigate your internship from start to finish by adhering to these steps.

Searching for internship opportunities

You may feel a bit overwhelmed when you first begin the search for an internship and that is totally normal! I remember calling my mom in a frenzy, completely convinced that I was behind everyone else in my internship experience. She reminded me that everyone is on their own path, and the search for a job is not as important as the search for experience. 

Before beginning your search for the “perfect” internship, it is important to define what “perfect” is to you. Brainstorm what you would like to gain from this experience, and what skills you will bring to the table. 

Next, examine your personal network. Think of anyone in your life who could give insight into the field you’re interested in or could point you in the right direction for a valuable experience. As they say, “It’s about who you know.” If you do not have connections with anyone in the field you’re interested in, don’t freak out. Websites such as WayUp, Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn are valuable resources to utilize in your search for an internship – just make sure you’re continuously checking and updating your accounts! 

When you get an interview, think back to what you’d like to gain and what skills you could bring to the internship. Understanding your own motivations will help you articulate your goals to a potential employer. For more information about interviewing skills, check out this link.

Preparing for your internship role

Once you’ve secured a position with a company, revisit your thoughts on what you wanted to gain from an internship experience. Sharpening your focus before you arrive on your first day will prepare you to answer the common questions of “Why are you here?” and “What do you want to gain out of this?” that many of your curious co-workers and superiors may ask. I was very surprised that people were so interested in why I wanted to be there and was relieved that I had reflected deeply on this question before showing up on the first day!

Following the news and tracking the stock of the company that you will be working for is an effective way to learn the current trends and developments of the company. The more you know, the better you will be able to articulate your questions and ideas. The News App, Google Alerts, and Yahoo! Finance are among reliable and useful sources to gather information beforehand. 

Performing on the job

Whew! You made it. You’re finally starting the first day of your internship after searching, waiting, interviewing, waiting some more, and preparing. But wait – you still have to actually work. Searching for and preparing for this day was only half the battle. Now it’s time to show what you’re made of!

Every task in a company is important. No matter what position you have or tasks you are asked to do, it is important to utilize the word “yes.” Take every opportunity you can to complete every task, even if it doesn’t fall within your job description. Who knows? You may find joy in something you would have never thought that you’d like. Any opportunity is a good opportunity to learn and grow as a person, and making yourself available to different teams shows your enthusiasm and openness to work.

Weekly or bi-weekly meetings with your immediate supervisor are an important way to receive feedback, clarify and adapt your goals, and voice your thoughts.

Following up after your internship

As your internship comes to an end, it is important to show your gratitude and express what you learned while working at the company during an exit meeting. If no meeting is scheduled, ask your supervisor to meet with you to give you constructive criticism and feedback, and recap your experience working for them.

If you haven’t already, request to connect on LinkedIn with those co-workers you think would be valuable to have in your network. Include a short message telling them what you enjoyed about working with them, and let them know that you’re excited to connect with them.

Lastly, handwritten thank-you notes are a personal and thoughtful gesture to further express your appreciation for those you’ve worked closely with. In these notes, you should include what you took away from the experience, bringing up specific and personal examples from your time with the recipient. Close with a statement of salutations and action such as “Thank you for your time and effort to mentor me, and I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.”

During my own internship experience abroad I learned about not only a business, but also about the role that their culture had on their work. Whether you have an internship in America or internationally, I challenge you jump in wholeheartedly and have the best time doing so!