Success on the Internship or Job

Prior to Starting

  • Research the company/division to learn as much as possible
    • Has the company been in the news
    • What are the latest press releases from the employer?
  • Map your commute, consider traffic

Student Story: “Before I started my internship in New York City for Deloitte I went to the Mahaffey Business Library at Mendoza to do a little company research. The librarians there helped me find current news articles on Deloitte and locate information on managers and the top leaders in the company. Since this was my first time visiting and/or living in Manhattan, I was a little nervous about the commute. I arrived in New York a few days early so I literally took my commute one morning, as if I was going to work, before my first day so I felt comfortable with my route and the length of time I needed to get to work on time.”

Getting Started on the Internship

  • Arrive early for work and don’t be the first one to leave at the end of the day
  • Be sure to dress for success – err on the side of conservative, especially at the start
  • Listen more than talk during your first few weeks
    • Show respect to everyone: learn names as quickly as possible, regardless of their role
  • Network: As you meet people, take notes on what each person does within the company
    • Consider having lunch or coffee with these individuals in order to learn about other parts of the organization
  • Maintain a professional attitude in all situations, even activities outside of work with fellow co-workers

Student Story: “I walked into my first day at Abercrombie in a suit jacket and stood out like a sore thumb! I felt so silly but it just turned into a joke. I guess that’s better than showing up on Wall Street and being laughed at in a different way! I still overdressed a bit all summer but my professionalism was noted at the end of the summer.”

Effectively Managing Your Projects and Work

Steps for Success:

  • Discuss assigned projects and objectives with supervision
  • Agree to a timeline for completion
  • Inquire about resources
    • Do not expect to be given step-by-step instructions
  • Inquire about how your performance will be evaluated
  • Set up periodic ‘check-in’ meetings

*It is important to know the ‘Why’ and not just the ‘What’ with regards to your project/s

  • Create a timeline to map out your responsibilities and steps you need to accomplish for successful completion of projects
    • Do not procrastinate as additional projects could be assigned to you
  • Create a list of resources, including people, in order to know where to turn for help
  • Consider asking someone in the organization to serve as your mentor (if not assigned)
    • Meet with that person on a weekly/bi-monthly basis (agree on frequency of meetings)
    • Keep in touch with this person after your internship is over
  • Give your supervisor periodic updates on your progress
    • If things are going well, your supervisor should know about it
    • If you are struggling, best to communicate this now in order to fix the situation before it is too late – asking for help is a sign of strength
  • When you make a mistake, admit it. Admitting you were wrong shows maturity and often builds trust with others.  Don’t make the same mistake twice

Additional Tips:

  • If you have an internship that “does not have formal ‘projects’”:
    • Be flexible and volunteer to help out where you can
    • Take the initiative and ask to help out instead

Be sure to check with your supervisor before committing to others

Student Story: “My first day, I was handed a file and asked to finish this project in two weeks. That was it! Talk about a quick lesson in sinking or swimming. I utilized my calendar and mapped out tasks and due dates in order to fulfill my project requirements in time.”

Network Effectively

  • Reach out to individuals in other departments – having lunch, grabbing a coffee, stopping by after work – in order to learn about other areas of the organization
  • If your employer organizes social events, lunch and learns, service opportunities – take advantage of them to get to know others inside and outside of your circle
    • Social skills are just as important as technical skills for success on the job
  • Do you work with just a few other people? Consider reaching out to other professionals in your city for networking lunches

Student Story: “I had a marketing internship and the most enjoyable time I had over the summer was spent having lunch with people from other departments. It gives you a wider lens to view the company and a better understanding of how the company departments interact. I ended up really connecting with a woman in Human Resources and we developed a great relationship. I am now looking for a full time position in HR due to our interactions, I realized this is my dream area of work!”

Gathering Feedback

  • If no formal process exists, set up a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your progress. Be sure to bring updates on your work and/or projects, what you have learned, what you still hope to achieve, etc.
  • Ask for constructive feedback and be ready to take some tough advice. Don’t get defensive, stay positive and brainstorm with your supervisor about ways you can improve
  • Inquire about being included on projects, sitting in on meetings (budgets, planning, sales, marketing, etc.), initiating ideas you have developed, etc.
  • If you are not being challenged, be proactive and try to improve your situation by discussing ways you can contribute even more

Student Story: “Nobody enjoys being criticized but it’s one of the most valuable parts of your internship. My boss told me the things I did really well and what to focus on as I prepared for a full time job. It really helped me understand where I can grow before interviewing for full time positions.”

Interns – Finish Strong

  • Schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your summer performance. Be ready to discuss what you accomplished, lessons learned, and ask for feedback
  • Thank co-workers, peers, and mentors for their time, advice, and help given to you over the summer
  • Obtain your manager/coworkers contact information and keep in touch– these relationships can be very important in helping you land a job or future internship, even if the job is not with this company
  • You may receive an offer to join the organization full-time after graduation – if you know the job and company are right for you, go for it
    • If you are not 100% sure, get all the details, especially the company’s deadline for your response, and come back to campus ready to explore alternative jobs and employers
  • If you receive an offer at the end of your internship for full-time employment, please refer to the Center for Career Development Policy, you will have until mid-October to make your decision to accept/decline your offer