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3 Things To Consider Before Your Internship

March 17, 2015

Internships can be pure joy, filled with numerous opportunities during summer break or post-graduation. An internship also has the possibility to be pure undiluted slog. Hundreds of thousands of students this summer will swarm office spaces around the country carrying the title “intern.” All of those interns arrive hoping to gain some advantage from their efforts to move forward in their careers.

If you're going to descend on an internship this summer, here are a few questions to ask yourself.

What do you want to take away from this experience?

Your internship should be treated differently from ‘just another job.’ The reality is that an internship offers as much for your professional growth, as it helps progress the company. Do you hope to retain a job at the same company after your internship is complete?

Jessica an expert from Cardinal Health commented, “Internships are a great way for students to test out their major in the “real world” and I would highly encourage you to find one while in college! I can’t speak to all internship programs; however, ours look to interns to bring fresh, innovative ideas to our company and to tackle meaningful and challenging projects. We do our best to retain our interns into full time positions after their graduation, so it’s also a great way to get a jump start on your future!”

It's important to know what your goals and expectations are before an internship so you can make the most out of your experience. Often times, intern managers at the company will discuss what practical experience each intern is interested in learning. Not only does this help you as an intern gain some knowledge that will help your professional merit, it will also help the company to have someone motivated to make a positive impression.

How can you be proactive to get more out of your internship?

Let’s be honest, some internships could more aptly be titled “Errand Runner.” However, if you are in a good environment for learning, it’s vital for you to make the most of your experience.

A hiring expert from Textron, Kit, had this to say about being proactive in learning while interning, “Companies that offer internship opportunities make a great deal of investment in developing a program that will be meaningful and beneficial to all involved. To ensure that you are getting the most out of your experience, discuss openly about your intentions in taking on this internship and what you hope to gain from the experience. You have a stake in your development as much as they do. Be proactive and willing to take on more responsibilities when you can.”

Taking on more responsibilities is just one way to further your experience. Make a point to ask insightful questions about the work you’re doing. If possible ask various people in your department out to lunch and pick their brain about the company and their role. If it’s possible to moonlight on a project, then do it! Ultimately, what you put into your internship is what you'll get out of it.

How can you leave your internship with a job offer down the line?

When most people accept an internship, they hope there will be a job offer down the line. Most recruiters know this is true, and they plan accordingly.

Shaughn at Kellogg’s put it this way, “While there is not a specific determined amount of time that is standard, I would recommend working at least a couple of months before you ask your supervisor about possible job opportunities at the company. This way you can be sure that you have acclimated yourself into the culture and have begun to reach the deliverables that were allocated to you.

If you have a midpoint review during your internship, that will serve as a great opportunity for you and your supervisor to review your accomplishments as well as broach the subject about full time roles.”

The common theme through all this is to know what you want from your internship. Outline some goals, expectations and experiences you'd like to have at the end of your internship. And don't be shy about expressing these intentions to your intern manager; however, as with everything in the workplace, do it respectfully and when it's appropriate. It goes without saying, but don't start making demands during your orientation.

And, if you’re really hoping to walk away from your internship with a job down the line, it’s key that you be the kind of employee they’re looking for. Bring something unique to your position and your team. If you bring enthusiasm, insight, and perspective to your internship, they will be excited to offer you a permanent position as a member of their organization.

Internships are an invaluable and great way to jumpstart your career. Be sure to maximize every opportunity you have to further your learning. You may just end up with an incredible new long term position.

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