Making the Most of Your Internship

Wednesday, August 29, 2018, by Kashay Webb


Internships can be a great way to take a deeper dive in being exposed to a career field and to make lasting connections. There isn't a one size fit all internship experience though. Two people placed at the same site can have two completely different experiences. Although this is true, I want to share some things I have found to be helpful in getting the most out of the internship experience that can be used by anyone. Enjoy :)

Define what is to be 

Many internships will have defined descriptions of what your daily tasks will be like, projects to be worked on and expectations. While this is great, you want to come to the table with your own clearly defined objectives and expectations. Why do you want this internship? And not the "I'm going to save the world" answer you probably gave in your interview. Truly, think about your interests and why when you could be anywhere in the world doing anything else you have decided to commit to this internship. What do you hope to get out of it? There of tons of things to be desired: maybe connections in this field that you did not have previously, possibly full-time employment following graduation, or to complete projects that are meaningful and that will also look great on your resume.

What you can hope to achieve is endless. Since this is the case, it would be productive for you to hone in on what you would like to achieve by the end of the internship. It will allow you to refocus if you lose sight of what is important and will help direct you throughout the experience. You will also look back in the end and appreciate that you accomplished what you said you would.

Another reason you want to "find your why" and define your objectives is it will help your supervisor, preceptor, or whoever is the leader for your internship. Even if they have a clear idea of what you will be doing, it can help individualize the experience. Maybe you pointed out that there is a skill you really want to develop during your experience. Or maybe you are interested in a certain aspect of the field and you do not have much exposure to it, but you would like to.

This simple thought process will empower you to know what your purpose and mission is. It's much easier and more meaningful to move throughout an internship (and life) with a definite motive.

Guiding your Leader

Whoever is in charge of the trajectory of your internship is tasked with guiding you and ensuring that you get to where you need to be. The thing is, sometimes you have to guide the leader as much as they have to guide you.

The leader does not know what exactly you want out of your internship unless you express that and  course correct with them along the way. This may come in the form of asking for more responsibility, maybe switching to a project that aligns with your interests better, or asking them to put you in touch with someone who may be able to help you reach your goals. To get the most out of your internship, the relationship between you and your leader should be collaborative. This will ensure that both sides get something out of the placement in the end: you adding value to your site and the site adding value to your life. They will guide you and at times you will guide them to make the experience equally beneficial to both parties.

Clarity

From the beginning, getting clear on what is expected of you and what you expect to get out of the internship is crucial. It can prevent many issues down the line. It will also keep a standard of focus.

Clarity is also an ongoing thing. When given a project or task, make sure you speak up to ensure that you understand without a doubt what is being asked of you and what is to be delivered in the end. This way, there isn't miscommunication and then you go and work very hard on a project and it is not what you were supposed to do and what you delivered is not what is desired.

A limitation of the human experience is that we cannot read each other's minds. Even sometimes when we try to explain an idea, we must articulate it a few times in different ways to fully convey what we mean. Clarifying helps with that transfer of information and is also useful for many areas of life outside of internships. It's helpful to start developing the skill now!

Keep an Open Mind

You most likely have some vision of what you think or hope your internship experience will be like. As with many things in life, sometimes you desire something but it turns out being a little different than you expected. And that's okay! Every so often we dream about how we want things to be and it does not turn out the way we envisioned, but it turns out even better. Immerse yourself in your internship experience. Don't box yourself into how you think things should be, but open yourself up to what is. You will set yourself up to align with opportunities that may not have presented themselves had you kept your eyes on the way things should be

In the spirit of this blog post, I want to send positive vibes your way if you are looking for an internship. I hope you find one that you love and that will help you develop both professionally and as a student of life. Until next time, peace and love.

0 comments