Enhance internship experience
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  • 1. CAREER CENTER10 Tips For Enhancing Your Internship Experience Before: Prepare for your internship in advance During: Perform at your best and take advantage of your time on site After: Follow up and keep in touch1. Do Your Research. Learn as much as you can about the organization prior to starting. Review their website and news coverage.Understand their mission and key functions. Be aware of the latest developments in the organization and industry. Learn about yoursupervisor and other staff members and their roles in the office.2. Set Goals and Realistic Expectations. In light of your research and what you learned through your interview(s), considerwhat you want to learn/experience most and how this will mesh with the expectations of the organization as you know them. Make alist of staff you’d like to connect with to enhance these goals. Once on site, talk to your supervisor early to understand what is expectedof you. Share your own goals and suggest assignments and potential projects that will both benefit the organization and enhance yourexperience. 3. Act Professionally. Maintain an open mind. Demonstrate a positive attitude and energy in all the work you’re asked to do—evenmundane tasks! Be early to work and to meetings. Offer to stay late to help with a project if necessary. Honor deadlines and communi-cate about your progress toward them. Err on the side of formality in emails and other messaging. Dress in accordance with the normsof your workplace—ask for feedback when you’re not sure!4. Take Initiative. Be on the lookout for opportunities to help out, contribute, and go beyond the call of duty. Take every opportunityto attend meetings, presentations, or events and look for ways to exceed expectations. Don’t sit back and wait for the next assignment—when a project or task is winding down, ask for more work or better yet, suggest some ideas on what you can do next.5. Ask Questions and Share Your Ideas. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Questions help you gain a more comprehensiveunderstanding of the job or project. You are there to learn and not expected to be an expert. Ask for input and feedback on your workand follow through on suggestions for improvement. Be forthcoming about your own ideas in brainstorming, planning, and debriefingsessions.6. Perform at Your Best. One of the best ways to make the most of your internship is to strive to do your very best work, provide ahigh quality result, and ensure that it is complete and on time. This will demonstrate that you are ready to take on new assignments andwill help integrate you into the organization. Doing your work well also adds to your learning experience as you see the impact of yourknowledge and skills in contributing to the work of the organization.7. Network, Network, Network! Internships are as much about developing interpersonal relationships as they are about building newskills. This is a unique opportunity to gain insight from industry insiders. Ask staff if they are willing to do informational interviews:ask about their role and their unique career path; seek advice on skills needed for jobs within the organization and industry. Find out ifthere are alumni in the organization and make sure to meet them!8. Learn About You! This is a great opportunity to test your skills and interests and find out more about your work style and values.Evaluate your experience. Take note of the tasks you prefer, your feelings about the culture and organization of the internship site, theworkflow, etc. Consider what was most challenging and why. Evaluate how all of this fits into your idea of work. If appropriate, develop aportfolio of your work as a record of the skills and knowledge you developed.9. Leave on a Positive Note. Talk to your supervisor about what you have accomplished during your time at the organization.Share your thoughts about your future plans and goals. If you are interested, find out if there is an opportunity for you to continue towork for them remotely. Request a final evaluation, which will help you assess what you have learned from your experience. Thank yoursupervisor and others who have contributed to your experience—handwritten thank you notes are a great touch. Ask about potentialpositions in the organization and express your interest in working for the company, if applicable.10. Follow Up. If you did not do so before leaving, send a thank you letter to your supervisor and to other people at the organizationwho made a difference in your experience. Stay in touch with them on a regular basis by sharing updates and inquiring about them. Addsomeone or several people from the organization to your personal Board of Advisors. These people can provide a critical perspectiveabout you that can assist you in making decisions about your future.www.studentaffairs.duke.edu/career
  • 2. Setting Goals for Your Summer ExperienceREFLECT!It’s important to reflect on yourinternship experience as it hasgreat implications for future careerdecision-making.Don’t wait until your experienceis over to reflect on it! Activereflection during your experienceis crucial to getting the most fromyour internship.Take a close look at your underly-ing beliefs and interests.Push yourself to define what youlearned and the implications foryour future.Some questions to get you started:• What are you learning (have you learned) about this industry, the organization, and yourself?• What skills are you developing (have you developed)? What knowledge?• What do (did) you like and what would like to change (to have changed) about your experi- ence?• What specific tasks do (did) you find most rewarding? Least rewarding?• Do (did) you discern any con- flicts with your value orienta- tion?• How is (has) this experience made you feel about your inter- est in this career path? Why?• Would you want to work full- time at this organization after graduation?• Would you want to work in the same industry? Why or why not?• How do you view your academ- ic path in light of your intern- ship?• How has your internship in- fluenced your thoughts on the leadership or service activities you want to get involved in on or off campus?www.studentaffairs.duke.edu/career