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While You’re There

Making the Most of Your Internship
An internship provides you the opportunity to discover whether the job, organization, and location are ideal for you; however, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the experience and lose focus of the original purpose behind the opportunity. To maximize your experience, you need to take ownership of your internship by setting performance goals, actively reflecting upon your experience, and developing valuable connections.

Set Goals

When your internship ends, it is important that you can articulate your accomplishments. Setting goals will allow you to maintain control over your experience by ensuring that you understand what you contributed and achieved.

  • Overarching goals:
    • What do you want to accomplish? Ex: Full-time offer, a return offer, great recommendations, clear picture of your career path, etc.
    • Which skills do you hope to hone?
  • Measurable goals, consider the following questions:
    • What is the goal of the project?
    • What role will you play in the completion of the project?
    • What do you plan to accomplish?
    • How will the results be measured?

Be Proactive

Without a doubt, you are a valued member of your internship team; however, even the most structured internship program will not be able to meet all of your professional development needs. It is your responsibility to seek out growth opportunities.

  • Find mentors in your office:
    • Formal Mentors:
      • Many internship programs offer formal mentorship by developing structured programs that connect interns with established professionals in an effort to transition the intern into the organization’s culture and community.
    • Informal Mentors:
      • These relationships are often organic in nature. To locate great informal mentors, identify professionals who are both impressive and willing to nurture. Establishing these relationships allows interns to develop professional connections that last beyond the experience.
  • Alumni mentors:
    • Mentors do not have to come from within your organization, they can also come from your extended network. Establishing relationships from outside of your organization can be extremely valuable as you can receive objective advice from individuals whose allegiance is to you rather than the organization.
    • How to locate:
      • LinkedIn: Search for individuals who share one of your networks and who work in your city and/or industry. Example networks: Alumni from the University of Michigan, your high school, your fraternity/sorority/club, or someone who shares a common interest
      • Alumni Association: The University of Michigan Alumni Association has active clubs worldwide that meet frequently to network and reminisce about the glory days at U-M.
  • Ask for references:
    • One of your goals should be to walk away from your experience with valuable connections who can attest that you were a valuable member of the organization. When identifying excellent references consider the following:
      • Questions to answer before asking for the reference:
        • Can the individual speak directly to you contributions?
        • Will the reference have positive things to say about your time as an intern?
      • Asking for a reference:
        • Ask BEFORE the end of the internship
        • Request a letter only if needed. Recommenders now have the option to provide a brief statement of reference on your LinkedIn profile
        • Remember that your references are busy! Be conscientious of their time by providing reasonable deadlines for letters and ask them before using them for future job/internship applications.

Reflect Upon Your Experiences

Before you know it, your internship experience will come to a close! Do not wait until your next interview cycle to consider the impact of your internship experience. Instead, commit to reflecting throughout the internship process by creating a blog or journal.

  • Blog Platforms: Students enrolled in ALA225 actively participate in a blog that is hosted on WordPress, which is easy to use and looks great!
  • Best Practices: While active journaling is recommended, be sure that you consult your employer’s guidelines before engaging in public forums.