How to: Make the most of your summer internship

Summer internships are the perfect way to discover what you may want to do in your long-term career, as they give you the chance to temporarily try out a job alongside professionals who want to help you grow. This is your time to gain new skills, create strong connections, and very importantly, make a positive and lasting impression. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your internship this summer.

Communicate what you want to gain from this experience.

Taking the time to think through what skills you want to build from your internship shows thoughtfulness and is not only beneficial to you, but to your supervisor as well. It will help him or her gain insight into which projects will align with your goals, and what meetings they can pull you into for you to learn more about what interests you. Taking that initiative will ensure that you gain something meaningful out of the internship.

Schedule coffee chats and lunch meetings — as often as possible.

It’s very rare that you will find a person in your company who will turn down a free cup of coffee and the opportunity to talk about themselves. Make it a goal to meet at least one new person a week, especially one who has a position that interests you, and pick their brain about their experiences. They will appreciate that you thought about them for insight, and because you have a young, fresh perspective, they will love to hear your thoughts on different topics as well.

Get to know your fellow interns.

While it’s important to get to know the professionals at the company, it’s just as crucial to form strong relationships with your fellow interns. These are the people who could potentially put a good word in for you in the future as everyone is starting their careers. A word of caution: do not just “network” with your fellow interns. Take the time to get to know them and find common interests that will create lasting connections. Even if the internship is just a couple of months, make a positive impression and follow up in the upcoming year.

Don’t be afraid to share your ideas.

While it may seem scary or not your place to share your thoughts, it’s absolutely necessary in order to stand out and be successful. Even if it’s not a fully formed idea, start the conversation and get the brainstorming going. In a business environment that increasingly places an emphasis on collaboration, your willingness to speak up shows that you are taking initiative and want to add value. If your goal is to get a full-time offer after the internship, vocalizing your thoughts is critical.

Have fun!

If you are fortunate enough to have an internship in a new city, explore it with your fellow interns. Everyone will be nervous at first to ask people to hang out – so step up and be the social glue that gets everyone together. Start a Facebook group to easily make plans. Scout out the best local places to sightsee or make a list of the can’t-miss restaurants in town. Your internship experience doesn’t have to just be 9 to 5.

Take time to reflect.

Even if you end the summer not loving the specific job position or company, it’s totally okay! It’s just as important to figure out what you don’t want to do as it is to find out what you are really passionate about. The most important takeaway should be reflecting on all you have learned throughout the summer and making a plan to keep in touch with the contacts you have made. You never know who could help connect you to your actual dream job!


Discover tons of awesome summer internships — and career coaches to help you get there — at ASU's W. P. Carey School of Business.

Courtney Robertson