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How to Stand Out at Your First Internship

Wed, Jun 13, 2018 @ 02:07 PM

summer job college prep skillsBe Proactive to Make the Most of Your Summer Internship Experience

Internships are valuable experiences that can give both high school and college students the opportunity to learn something new and stand out when applying to college or jobs in the future. There’s a lot that students can do to make the most of their internships and stand out this summer!

For many high school students, internships are more than something to do over the summer – they are an opportunity to further explore a field of interest, build a resume, and learn marketable skills in a hands-on environment.

It’s normal to feel intimidated during the beginning of an internship, especially if it is your first one. Internships vary greatly, depending on the field and the company you are working for, so there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for success. However, there are some pointers for what to do as a summer intern that are guaranteed to help you stand out, no matter what kind of opportunity you are pursuing.

Take Notes, Especially During Week 1
As an intern, you are walking into a new environment, with established systems and procedures. In order to soak in as much as possible, take detailed notes whenever your supervisor shows you how to do a task. Even if it’s something simple like mailing out a package, write down exactly how mailings are addressed and where they are placed. When you are expected to send something out the following week, you can turn to these notes to make sure you follow the exact same process. Get specific to ensure all requirements are met; attention to detail is valued in virtually all career paths so take note of small differences and preferences whenever possible.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Meaningful Questions
It is essential to ask your supervisor questions throughout your internship, particularly when you are still learning the basics of the position. However, once a concept is explained, try your best to make note of it and avoid asking the same question the following week (this is where taking notes comes in!). If you are unsure of something more general, such as how something is spelled or a specific address, try to find the answer yourself first. Reach out to your supervisor if you are still stumped and explain what you did to look into it and what you need clarification on.

Be Proactive
Depending on your internship, there may be some downtime. Instead of playing around on your phone, reach out to your supervisor to see if there are any additional projects you could work on. As the internship progresses, try to identity these supplemental activities yourself. For example, if you are interning at a newspaper and know the team is always looking for story ideas, brainstorm topics during your downtime. If you’re really at a loss for what to do, read articles about the company you are working for or the industry you are in; there is no such thing as too much research!

Stay in Touch
An internship doesn’t truly end on your last day. In order to make the most of your experience, keep in contact with your supervisor. Write a thank you card expressing how grateful you are for your experience and the lessons you learned. Discuss the potential for continued work throughout the school year or the following summer, if you are interested. Hold onto your supervisor’s contact information in case you plan on using him or her as a reference for another internship down the line.

Finding new ways to explore your interests, including internships, are a great way to help you decide what you want to study in college or adjust your career goals if you're already in school. It can also help boost your applicant profile when applying to college.

Whether you are looking for extra internship guidance or are interested in opportunities to pursue during the school year, working with your school or an independent counselor is always a good place start. At IvyWise, our team of expert  counselors can help you craft an extracurricular project plan, including choose the internships and programs that are right for you!

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