iSchool Career Newsletter, 5/18/2016

Career Newsletter Picture

Making Your Internship Successful

With the close of the year bringing finals, projects, convocation, and capstone, it can be easy to keep your mind off what is next. Many of you will be entering the workforce and could be starting your very first internship or DFW. This week, we’ve compiled some suggestions for how to make your internship successful.

Preliminary research. Learn as much as you can about your new company before your first day. Research their mission, vision, “about us” section, and any recent articles that may be reported in the news. Follow their Twitter feed or blog (if they have one). This will help you acclimate to your new role quicker than other interns.

Track your learning. Within the first weeks, sit down with your manager to establish some learning goals and discuss what you would like to accomplish. Come to this meeting prepared with some suggestions but also be open to what your manager recommends. Important- make sure to track any learning, objectives, and milestones you have achieved. Not only is this good to share with your manager, but it will help you formulate your resume and LinkedIn (and possibly your online portfolio). You don’t want to be putting your resume together a few months down the road and forget important accomplishments from your internship.

You may also lose access to some of information you had as an intern (ex: data on how many views the webpage you developed received, how many accounts you migrated to a new ERP system, the number of artifacts and images you cataloged). These are things you can only track while you are still an intern. Make sure whatever you are listing on your resume/LinkedIn/portfolio doesn’t violate a NDA you may have signed with this organization.

Do your job well. Okay this one may seem obvious but it is extremely important. Take pride and ownership in whatever you are working on. If this is your first internship or DFW, it is absolutely essential to perform well. Even if you don’t enjoy this position, you will want to make sure you have established good rapport and references as these will be asked for in your future job searches.

Take initiative. Volunteering to take on additional tasks or projects is a great way to stand out. This could be anything from a small administrative task that needs to get taken care of, to a large project that is outside of your normal job duties. Not only will this help you get recognized, it may help you connect and demonstrate your ability to other employees you wouldn’t normally interact with.

What if your internship is boring? Unfortunately, this can happen from time to time when the internship doesn’t live up to what you were hoping. It’s important to still do the job well- remember this manager might be a key reference for you when you look for your next job. Luckily internships usually have a defined start and end date, so this won’t be forever. If you are not developing the skills you were hoping, what else can you do to get something out of the internship?

  • Network– reach out to other people at the company to learn about their unit/role. Offer to treat them to coffee or grab a lunch with them. See if you can also sit-in on meetings with employees that are not within the same unit as you to learn more about the company as a whole.
  • Take initiative– (more on this above). Are there extra projects you can take on from your manager? What about from other people in the office? Anything you see that needs improvement?
  • Professional development– This will vary heavily by company. Some employers offer trainings and classes at no cost to their interns. One student I chatted with last summer worked at a large tech company that allowed her to take classes on analytics and big data technologies on site.

For even more information on this, check out Alycia’s presentation “Making the Most of Your Internship/DFW”. It will be held in BLD 070 this Thursday (5/19) from 12:30-1:20.

-Dean Kirkpatrick


“PwC’s Careers Site for Students: Making the Most of Your Internship.” PwC.

Srivastava, Sonal. “Guest Blogger: How to Make the Most of Your Internship.” UW ISchool Office of Student Services Blog. 15 Jan. 2016.


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