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An internship isn’t just “scut work” — it’s a valuable career planning opportunity! In this article we’ll discuss how you can get the most out of your internship and how it can set the stage for your future career.
For many, an internship is the first step on their career path, and for good reason — it’s a way to get real-world experience while “trying on” a career to see if it fits. It’s also a great way to build your professional network and establish a positive reputation. But you have to do more than just show up. There are concrete steps you can take to make the most of your internships and set yourself up for future success.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can make the most of your internship and how it relates to your career plans, including:
How do you get the most out of an unpaid internship?
What are the top six ways to succeed in an internship?
What not to do during an internship
Let’s face it, as an intern you won’t be making six figures. In fact, while some internships do come with a modest salary, many are unpaid. So if you’re not bringing home “the big bucks” yet, what are you getting out of an internship other than it looking good on your resume?
For the most part, your compensation comes in the form of hard and soft skills —and possibly a job offer at the end of the internship! In fact, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), over 50 percent of the companies said that they plan to increase intern hiring, and about 33 percent said they plan to hire the same number as the previous year. An internship can also help you find a career mentor, increase your future salary potential, and boost your confidence.
An internship is all about making contact and developing skills, but there are a few other things you can do to make your internship successful:
Set clear goals with your employers to avoid any conflict or confusion.
Follow through on your tasks. This will help you develop a reputation for being dependable and capable.
If you make a mistake, take responsibility. Don’t point fingers or make excuses.
Look for opportunities to collaborate, which is a valuable soft skill.
Keep an open mind and looking for opportunities to learn.
Be positive. Things can get stressful sometimes, especially when you're new, so a good mindset will help you stay focused.
Just because you’re (probably) not being paid, that doesn’t mean you can slack off. An internship can be a great opportunity to help set the stage for your career planning, so take it seriously. On the flip side, don’t try to take on too much too soon, which can lead to frustration and poor job performance.
To keep yourself on the straight and narrow path, avoid the following pitfalls:
Not doing your company research
Not dressing appropriately
Being late or skipping work
Failing to ask questions
Complaining about routine or “boring” tasks
Not asking for feedback
An internship isn’t a walk in the park — it’s hard work. But if you are willing to go above and beyond to get the most out of your internship, it can be extremely helpful in building your career foundation, setting a career plan, and developing the skills you'll need to be successful in your future endeavors.
Ready to get hired? Check out our Professional Resume Builder tool!
An internship is a great way to build your professional network and establish a positive reputation.
While most internships are unpaid, you are compensated in the form of hard and soft skills and a possible future job offer.
While performing your internship, make sure you ask questions, arrive on time, and set clear goals and expectations with your supervisor.
Jennifer Inglis is a freelance writer and content creator. A former public school teacher, she has expertise with English literature, writing, and public speaking, as well as an extensive professional background in advertising and media analysis. Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in Theater and a master’s degree in Education, and is the author of two published novels.