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4 Ways to Get the Most from Your Summer Internship

Posted June 21, 2013 by Lisa Granshaw in Career Moves

Many careers start out with a coveted summer internship. Whether paid or unpaid, if you’re interning right now for a company you hope to one day work for or that is at least in the field you dream of pursuing, you want to make the most of the experience and leverage your time there for your career.

While pursuing my dream of working in mass media and communications, I had five internships in college. By the time I started my fifth there were many things I wish I had known during my first so that I could have taken full advantage of the experience. Here are 4 ways to get the most from your internship that will help you get on the right path for starting your career.

1. Meet your fellow interns

You and your fellow interns will be the future of your business. These people will be your coworkers and possibly bosses one day. That’s why it’s important to get to know the other interns working in your company. Attend intern events and if there is a list of interns in the company see who may be around your department and make an effort to say hello. These connections you form with your fellow interns will one day be just as important as the connections you form with older professionals in the company.

2. Take on extra assignments that interest you

While getting in early and staying a little late can show you’re dedicated to an internship, the truth is you should show you can get your assignments done in the normal span of a work day. You’re just that efficient and good at your job! However you can show dedication by coming in early and leaving late to work on extra assignments you’ve asked for. If your internship doesn’t include an area that you are interested in pursuing or at least trying, don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor for the opporunity. They will usually be happy to see that you are open to more work and can handle it.

3. Network! Reach out to other people in the company for informational interviews

If this is your first internship, I can’t stress enough the importance of not hesitating to ask someone you don’t directly work with to get a coffee and discuss what they do. You need to take advantage of your access to the company during the three or so months you are there. Who knows the next time you will be seeing these people walk by in the hallways, know where they sit, or have access to the database with their email addresses? Even if you’re interested in speaking with a big name Vice President, don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor if they think you can ask for a meeting or if they sit next to you and say hi every morning, to develop that conversation further. I am a firm believer in taking advantage of the email database you have access to during internships as well. Usually you can easily find someone’s email in the system so why not send a short hello and introduction about why you’d love to talk with them? Sometimes you may feel too shy to push the send button but the worse that can happen is they don’t respond or say no. It’s worth the risk! This is the best networking opportunity you may have to set the groundwork for your future career.

4. Write thank you notes when you leave and stay in touch

It’s very true that a hand-written thank you note will set you apart from the rest of the crowd. Write notes for your supervisors and anyone who helped you or met with you for an informational interview during your internship. Have a list of these people so that you can follow-up with them in a few months to keep your connection open. When you send your email they’ll remember you as the amazing intern who took the time to write them a thank you note at the end!

About the Author

Lisa Granshaw

Lisa Granshaw is a freelance writer and career consultant based in New York City. Her company, Media Career Consulting LLC, offers a variety of consulting services to young professionals interested in a career in the media and communications industry. She began her career as a NBC Page, worked as a production assistant at Nightly News with Brian Williams, and was a producer and writer for the TODAY Show's website. Her work has appeared on The Daily Dot, TODAY.com, Parents.com, Vetstreet, Blastr, and more.