Becker Career Center

How to Make the Most of Your Internship

How to Make the Most of Your Internship

What is an Internship?

An internship is an experience related to your career field of interest and/or academic major that includes learning as an integral component.  Internships at Union take on many forms—they can be part-time, full-time, paid or unpaid, or for academic credit.

Benefits of an Internship

As a student, you will gain exposure to and knowledge of a career field of interest, and develop skills that will be important when marketing yourself for full-time employment or graduate school. Many students use internships to “test” career choices; the experience can either help to affirm career decisions or give cause to reconsider career options.

Employers often use internships to identify top talent, and according to a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) nearly 91% of employers prefer that their candidates have work experience, and 65% indicate they prefer candidates with relevant work experience. New hires with relevant work experience transition more effectively from student to full-time employee, quickly becoming an active contributor within the organization and significantly reducing training expenses for employers.

What Employers Want: Smart students

  • SMART ≠ GPA
  • Smart students are genuinely enthusiastic, interested, and inquisitive about the field and opportunity
  • Ability to communicate clearly and succinctly
  • Ability to work in a team

Making the Most of Your Internship

Once you have secured an internship, it is important to set goals you wish to accomplish during your experience. Be proactive. Know what is expected of you; plan to meet with your supervisor regularly to ensure the most successful outcome.

Consider:

  • How do you want to contribute?
  • What do you want to gain from the experience?
  • What knowledge or skills can you add to your repertoire?
  • Be realistic-keep in mind the timeframe you have and the employer expectations

Treat Your Internship Like a Job

  • Be punctual; arrive on time or a few minutes early so you’re ready to go at the beginning of your day
  • Dress appropriately; if unsure, ask about dress code
  • Limit outside distractions that inhibit productivity (i.e., cellphone, social media)
  • Take note of the office culture and environment; address any concerns with your supervisor or the Becker Career Center
  • Show a positive and professional attitude; take pride in the work you do and review it before submission

Remember – It’s a Learning Experience

  • Ask relevant, thoughtful questions (Avoid asking questions 4 weeks in that you should ask during your 1st week.)
  • Seek out training opportunities
  • Ask for feedback on your work, be open to it and don’t take it personally
  • Take initiative; ASK FOR MORE
  • Reflect on your goals

Potential Challenges

  • Address challenges you may encounter: office is not prepared for your arrival, not a lot of work for you to do, insignificant projects, absent or unorganized supervisor, office/interpersonal dynamics
  • Seek out guidance from the Becker Career Center or program coordinator
  • Address any concerns, especially of harassment, sexual harassment or discrimination with your supervisor, Human Resources, the Becker Career Center or the Union College Title IX Coordinator: Dr. Melissa Kelley, kelleym2@union.edu or (518) 388-6865.

Network

  • Note key contacts (name, title, department, contact info) – include supervisors and peers
  • Write thank you notes/emails to everyone who helps you
  • After the internship is over, keep in touch with genuine contacts you make (LinkedIn or email)

Evaluate Your Internship

  • Value the evaluation process: take the good with the bad; we all have room for improvement
  • Did you meet your goals? Why or why not?
  • If the experience was positive for both you and your supervisor, ask if they would be a reference
  • Reflect on your experience: What did you like/not like? What do you want to try more of? What don’t you ever want to do again? What would you like to try next?

Translate the Experience to Your Resume

  • Keep notes about your experiences, even if it is not expected of you (notes can serve as descriptions on your resume)
  • Update your resume; articulating projects, areas of contribution and accomplishments, new skills or knowledge gained
  • Review resume with a Career Advisor in the Becker Career Center, careercenter@union.edu