Making the Most of Your Summer Internship

By: David Ross, Senior Associate Director

Now that June is here, you may have started your summer experience (or will be starting soon). For those of you working this summer, here are some things to consider to make the most of your internship:

Be mindful of your transition.  Shifting from college life to working a summer position can be an adjustment (especially those early mornings) that may take time.  Be attentive during the onboarding process and leverage the resources at your disposal to start your summer position on a positive note!

Think about what you want to accomplish during your internship. Are you hoping to gain experience in a certain area? Do you want to work on a special project? Do you have an idea for something new and innovative? You may have a chance to accomplish more than you think before your internship ends so brainstorm some ideas now.

Continue to cultivate and expand your network at the organization. Be careful with this – do not attempt to simply meet as many people as you can. Try to strategically connect with your colleagues and show your interest in working at the organization by developing your network. Be sincere in your outreach and thankful for the time given by co-workers. Consider meeting with someone during a lunch break to ask questions and learn more.

Document your progress in your internship. It can be helpful to have a detailed list outlining what you worked on during your internship so that you can craft strong accomplishment statements on your resume.
Be mindful of any confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements you signed with your employer not to share any sensitive information but certainly track your projects and duties carefully to help you recall important details in the future.

Plan ahead and prepare for a mid-summer performance review or feedback (if applicable).  Some employers may give feedback on your performance during the middle of the summer.  With this in mind, think about ways you can track and assess your performance on an ongoing basis. If you have a mid-summer performance review, be prepared to share your accomplishments and contributions – and be sure to implement the feedback and advice on improving your performance.
Consider ways to take initiative beyond your required duties. If you do not have a mid-summer performance review scheduled, consider asking your supervisor for a meeting as you approach the halfway point of your position – if that is not feasible, you may want to ask for general feedback on your performance instead.

Develop strong working relationships with individuals who may ultimately be prospects for references at the end of the summer for future employment opportunities at different companies or organizations. If you already have one or more individuals in mind that is helpful. If you are not sure who to consider at this point that’s fine, think about some possibilities you may want to approach later in the summer around the time your summer position ends.
You do not need to ask for references during your internship but it may be a good idea to start thinking about who to ask at a later date if you plan to explore opportunities with other employers in the future.

Most of all – enjoy! We hope you have a meaningful, productive and enjoyable summer experience.

By David Ross
David Ross Senior Associate Director, Wharton Undergrad David Ross