MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR INTERNSHIP
For those of you not graduating in June, this summer will likely be spent interning or doing directed fieldwork. This week, we’re looking at how to make your internship successful. Whether or not it’s your first intern position, approaching the opportunity strategically will maximize what you take from the experience.
Informatics interns at Starbucks, summer 2017
CONDUCT PRELIMINARY RESEARCH
You likely before interviewing, but there’s no reason to stop now that you’ve secured an internship. Continue reading up on the organization’s mission and vision, and look for recent news articles or press releases, whether from outside publications or the company’s communications team (which are often shared via social media accounts). Starting with a depth of prior knowledge will reflect your enthusiasm for the role and organization, as well as help you acclimate more quickly than fellow interns.
Internships provide students with a unique opportunity to build their professional network — you’re out of the classroom, interacting with a new set of people on a daily basis. Focus on building as many connections as possible. Attend employer-sponsored intern events, ask your colleagues to lunch, and make plans for outside of work.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to employees on different groups or teams. Now is a great time to learn about their role(s), as well, and how they fit into the larger organizational structure. Bringing a curious attitude will carry you far, especially as you get started on your career.
Assuming your internship resembles what you’d like to do long-term (and, really, even if it doesn’t), every relationship you cultivate — both with peers and superiors — represents a learning opportunity and a potential job lead in the future.
TRACK YOUR LEARNING
Within your first week, your supervisor will likely ask you to sit down with them and set out some goals for the internship. After doing so, it’s important to keep track of your accomplishments and the things you learn. This sort of documentation will not only demonstrate to your supervisor the work you’ve put in, it will also help you reflect and then refocus your efforts as necessary to achieve those predetermined goals.
Maintain a record of your learning will also help with resumes and your LinkedIn profile. Boiling the internship experience down to a few bullet points is difficult no matter what, but is especially so if you can’t remember what you did. Documentation ensures that won’t happen. Additionally, there’s some information you’ll only have access to as an employee — for example, data on how many views the webpage you developed received, or the number of artifacts and images you cataloged.*
*Make sure whatever you list on your resume/LinkedIn/portfolio doesn’t violate a non-disclosure agreement, if you had to sign one.
DO YOUR JOB WELL
Obvious, but unparalleled in importance. All the relationships you develop and learning you do will be for naught if at the end of the internship you don’t have people who can vouch for the quality of your work. Take ownership of your work and approach each task with the assumption that your performance could have lasting effects on your professional reputation. Even if you don’t see yourself with this organization long term, a prospective employer may ask for a reference from your supervisor.
If you have capacity, also consider taking the initiative to volunteer for additional projects. Whether it’s a small administrative task or something more substantive, doing so will both demonstrate your work ethic and potentially introduce you to employees with whom you wouldn’t normally interact. Don’t overburden yourself, though—nothing gained from doing extra work if the quality isn’t up to your normal standards.
An internship is an opportunity to test a career path, demonstrate your abilities, and get a grasp for the organization’s culture. To that latter end, remember to have fun! Attend any intern social events, or make plans with peers yourself. Take note of how well you’re enjoying yourself throughout the summer and consider if it’s a workplace that would be conducive to long-term happiness.
Image from Andy Herman’s presentation: Making the Most of Your Internship
For more on this topic, be sure to watch Making the Most of Your Internship featuring Andy Herman. Andy is an MSIM alumnus currently working as a Risk Program Manager at Microsoft. He spent a summer interning as a security consultant at West Monroe Partners while enrolled in the full-time MSIM program.
iSchool: More info and registration via iCareers
(Missed a workshop? You can review our recorded sessions online.)
There are currently no more iSchool-hosted career events planned for the year. We’ll be sure to notify students if that changes, but if not, thank you to everyone who participated in our workshops and employer recruitment events the past several months!
UW Career & Internship Center
- 5/14: PwC Cyber Security & Privacy Consulting Info & Networking Session; 6:00 – 7:30pm, DEM 102
- 5/15: How to Make the Most of Your Summer (Online); 2:30 – 3:00pm, online
- 5/16: S. Job Search for International Students; 2:30 – 3:00pm, MGH 134
- 5/14: PwC Cyber Security & Privacy Consulting Info & Networking Sessions; 6:00 – 7:30pm, DEM 102
- 6/20 – 21: West Monroe Partners Journey (Sophomore Leadership Program); applications due May 17, more info via iCareers posting #8435
POSITIONS FOR CONSIDERATION
- Tech Support Student Assistant, UW Undergraduate Academic Affairs; Handshake ID 2708786
- Data Architecture and Visualization Student Specialist, UW Libraries; iCareers ID 8984
- Graduate Reference and Instruction Specialist, UW Libraries; iCareers ID 8950
- Intern: Planning Software, Ciena; Handshake ID 2723926
- DevOps Engineer Intern, Infoblox; Handshake ID 2721333
- Cybersecurity Internship – Fall 2019, The Walt Disney Company; Handshake ID 2715829
- Online Intern, Law Library of Congress; iCareers ID 8956
- Systems Engineer, Yext; Handshake ID 2718970
- Backend Engineer, Caper; Handshake ID 2723302
- Software Engineer II, F5 Networks; Handshake ID 2717758
- HP Print Strategy Associate (Corporate Strategy), HP, Inc.; Handshake ID 2716264
- Archivist/Researcher, LAC Group; iCareers ID 8968