Get the Most from Your Internship: Before, During and After

Internships and CareerFresh out of college, most recent grads find themselves facing one heck of a conundrum:

They can’t get experience until they have experience.

Perhaps rightfully so, no one wants to hire someone completely green.  But this leaves the newcomers to the “real world” up the creek without the proverbial paddle.

The answer? Internships.

Once synonymous with “free labor,” today’s top Millennials are attacking the chance to differentiate themselves through their work history with notable voraciousness, and for good reason.

A whopping 91% of employers feel new grads should have between one and two internship experiences before applying for jobs.

Considering upping your game with an intern opportunity this summer? Here are a few worthwhile suggestions to help you get the most out of your internship before you start, during your internship and after you’re done…


Experience is Everything

When venturing out into the great abyss of available internships, don’t become too myopic in your search. Look for internships that you’ll gain the most experience from, not for ones that sound “fun”.

Don’t Snuff “Unpaid”

A lot of internships offer little to no compensation, which can be a huge barrier to many students. But keep in mind that experiential learning is extremely valuable in the long run. So, just because it’s no pay, consider the other benefits and seek out the possibility of at least garnering academic credit in return.

Leverage Internship Interviews

Always investigate the organization’s motive for offering the internship to ensure that the experience will be mutually beneficial. Ask questions about prior interns’ experiences, the goals of the internship for both parties, and about the management style you’ll be working under.


Treat it Like a Real Job

This one is pretty straightforward. For instance, show up on time and put in effort like your life depends on it. For more ways to impress, see “20 Ways to Make Yourself Absolutely Indispensable at Work.”

Learn, Learn, and Learn Some More

Take everything in – and not just about the actual work involved in your internship, but about office operations, professional etiquette and other peripheral aspects of successfully functioning in the real world.

Keep Tabs on Yourself

Quantitative data is a huge asset for marketing yourself in the future. So, keep relevant metrics on your performance while on the job. Anything from the number of documents you managed to the increase in customer service ratings you received. The point is that numbers are both concrete and attractive to future recruiters.


Send a Thank You Letter

This may come as a shock, but having an intern takes work!

Yes, you read that correctly. Finding, training and managing your unskilled self requires effort on the part of the organization. So take the time to follow up your exit with a personal note of gratification to your superior, citing specific examples of how the opportunity has helped you grow.

Ask for a Recommendation

Set the stage for a future reference by asking at the end of your internship. It can be difficult to follow up six months or a year down the road otherwise, and as one of your few sources of legitimate experience, you’ll definitely want them as a reference provider.

Write Your Own Comprehensive Review

Whether you’re ready to hit the road with your resume or have another few years of university, take the time to write a thorough report on your experience while it’s still fresh in your mind. This reflection will help you identify what aspects of the experience were most attractive and also capture selling points of the opportunity for use in future cover letters or interviews.

Standing out amidst the immense pool of applicants for any position is a daunting task, but especially so when your work history can be summed up by just a few bullet points.

By proactively engaging the workforce through an internship experience, you can overcome a common barrier, grow both personally and professionally, and differentiate yourself in the race to the top. Just remember – an internship is an investment that requires the same due diligence as any other!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at!


Lisa ChatroopAbout the Author: As Good.Co’s Digital Marketing Manager, Lisa Chatroop has the pleasure of spending her days engaging with the Good.Co community and talking, tweeting and blogging about workplace happiness. Follow Lisa on Twitter!



This entry was posted in Internships and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.