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Make the Most Out of Your Internship

In today's competitive job market, it can be difficult to start your career.  An internship is an excellent opportunity to develop marketable skills and make connections in your industry.  However, what you get out of your internship will largely depend on what you put into it.  If you approach your internship strategically, it is much more likely to benefit you.  Here are some tips that will help:

Exhibit professionalism.  Many interns make the mistake of not taking their internship as seriously as they should.  As a result the employer views them as interns and nothing more.  However, if you treat your internship like a job by showing up on time and behaving and dressing professionally, they are more likely to consider keeping you.

Actively network.  One of the most important benefits of an internship is that it allows you to make connections with people working in your industry.  Don't waste this opportunity.  Whenever you can, try to build relationships with your colleagues.  Your network is going to be the easiest way for you to break into the industry and the people who you meet at your internship are likely the ones who will open doors for you.    

Have a positive attitude.  As someone who is trying to enter the industry, your attitude is probably your greatest asset.  Employers like to hire new graduates because they are often enthusiastic.  If you come across as a go getter, the employer will be excited to see what you can accomplish and they will hope that your enthusiasm will spread to the rest of their team.  If they can, they will try to keep you around and if they can't, they will happily recommend you to other opportunities.

Ask for feedback.  As an intern, you may not even know how you are doing.  Don't assume that the employer is happy with your performance.  Ask for feedback.  If the employer has some criticism, welcome it as an opportunity to get better.  The employer will appreciate your humility and your willingness to learn and it will allow you to develop yourself into a more valuable employee.    

Identify opportunities.  To get the most out of your internship, you need to be proactive.  Try to find ways that you can contribute while also developing new skills.  Get involved in everything you can and keep your eyes open for where you can add value.  Let them know that you would be interested in a permanent position so that they keep you in mind if one becomes available.  

Above all an internship is just another strategy that can help you make connections and develop skills that will move you closer to meeting your career goal.  Take everything you can from the experience and continue to move forward.  

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image by