5 Internship Tips

intern cartoon

Now that I’ve graduated college (class of 2011 woot-woot!), I constantly look back on my experience and analyze the things I did right and wrong. Yes, this can be somewhat of a problem, but it also gives me the opportunity to help others not make the same mistakes I did. Or help others follow in my footsteps and do the same things that I did correctly. When I was asked to write a weekly column for LA Family Magazine about life after college, I was very flattered. I enjoy reliving those four years and getting to write about how my life is different now.

One of the aspects I wanted to touch on for my column was internships. Your first job out of college- and maybe your second and third as well- will be offered to you based upon your experience. A large part of your experience is your previous jobs and internships. During my four years of college, I took a full course load, worked part time and completed two unpaid internships. It wasn’t easy, but I learned a lot from them and wanted to share some of my tips with those of you who are in a similar position.

Here are 5 of my tips for internships.

Keep copies of all the work you do

It sounds easy enough, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t utilize the work they produce from their internships. This applies mostly to internships in the communications field, but the same could go for any major. Try to get a copy (digital or tangible) of all the work you do and produce. This will help to build your portfolio and is what potential employers are looking for. During my internships, I would e-mail myself a copy of everything I did- which included press releases, media advisories, sample pitches, etc.

Don’t be afraid to ask for new tasks

If the company has the time and resources for you to do so, they will be glad that you asked. At my first internship, I wasn’t getting a chance to do as much PR as I wanted to, so I asked my supervisor if there was any tasks related to PR that I could take on. I came out of that internship with a lot of experience in promotions and the radio business, but also got a little PR experience because I asked. Although many employers may not have the time to create the ideal task for you, if you ask ahead of time they may be able to plan a few new assignments for you in the future.

Ask questions about the industry you work in

These people were in your position once- don’t forget that! They too were interns at companies trying to work their way up and learn everything they could. During my internship of my senior year of college, I worked with a girl who had graduated just a year before me. She gave me tons of advice about applying for jobs and told me her personal stories on how much the job market stunk . Her advice was not only helpful, but reassuring as well.

Asking questions is also a chance to make sure this is the field you really want to go into. Ask about the good and the bad, what a typical day is like, and the traits and skills needed for the job and field. Make sure these match up to your personality and are things you are interested in, otherwise it may not be a good match.

Send a thank you note after your internship is over

While I usually resort to the thank you e-mail, after a particularly great internship experience I sent the company a handwritten letter. In the mail. Yes, people still do that- believe it or not! The receptionist revealed that no one had ever sent them a personal note in the mail and that it really meant a lot to the entire team that I did that.

Keep in touch through email and social media

I added my supervisor and a few of the other employees who I worked with on Linkedin. A few who I was closer with socially added me on Facebook and Twitter, which can be helpful for the job search and keeping in touch (if used correctly). Although these connections never led to a job position or anything, I still keep in touch with them from time to time. You never know when the company may have an opening or who they may know.

26 Comments

  1. great tips, I never got to do an internship thankfully one of my teachers referred me for my first fulltime job on my last semester and I got it. So I will add having a good relationship with your teachers as they know people in the industry you are trying to get in. I’m now on my second job after college, I find out that my current boss knows that teacher very well. It’s small world.

  2. These are all great tips! Also, show respect for who you are working with, and try to be mature. I have had such a problem with this with interns lately.

  3. Great tips! I did so many internships in college but I always wish I could’ve done more. It would have been great to do more internships in line with what I want to do now, which has changed a lot since college.

  4. Great tips for those looking to intern!! I wish I had the chance to do more internships while I was in college. All great experiences, but would have been nice to do more! xo,

  5. These are fab tips, especially the keeping in touch. I got my current job through one of my old editors! It’s such an important tip for getting ahead in the workplace.

  6. I wish I knew about the power of internships when I was in college. I went through college not really thinking about them. When I graduated, I did get two internships, but I think I would have been better off if I did some while in school as well.

  7. This is great advice. Internships are so important, my first job out of college was where I did my internship!

  8. Great advice about the thank you note. Whenever people send notes it really makes them stand out, I always hear about people talking about how the reason they were hired over another person is because they sent that note. I wouldn’t have thought to send a thank you post interning, but it’s a great idea!

  9. Rachel this is such great advice! I wish I had you as a blogging friend back in the day! I graduated in 2011 too and interned at a few places! These tips definitely show that an intern is going the extra mile:)!

  10. Thanks so much for this post, so much great advice that I will have to keep in mind when I go to college and do an internship 🙂 I really agree about the thank you note one, small things really can make a huge difference.

  11. I have 2 interns right now and I think what bugs me the most is that they don’t act like they take things very seriously. I was in their position once and I think I kissed alot of ass! They act like this opportunity is just owed to them. I guess my advice is to kiss ass and hide your personal life(ie: using cellphones on the job). After all you are trying to impress the person who actually is being payed for the job they are trying to get so they kinda know some things and have the ability to give you accurate recommendations based on your performance!

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