Maximizing internships

Maximizing Internships

We asked employers what advice they have for UW students participating in internships.  Below you’ll find direct quotes from employers, based on positive and less than positive experiences they’ve had with interns in the past.  Take heed of this advice in order to maximize your internship experience.

Focus on Learning

  • Keep an open mind - explore all options and experiences presented to you.
  • Look for the learning opportunities in every task.
  • Participate in stretch assignments if possible.
  • Take notes when being shown things you need to remember.
  • Use it as a time to learn what you want to do for your future career.

Take Initiative

  • Always be busy. Always ask if there is more/anything to do.
  • Always take initiative and go above/beyond the job expectations.
  • Actively seek out feedback and direction from your mentor or manager. 
  • Make the necessary push to stand out amongst your peers; this is the most effective way to get noticed and hired on directly by the company.

Fully Engage

  • Make sure you have a work plan and specific goals so you can stay focused and add value.
  • Be passionate and excited about the opportunity. I've seen interns that were not engaged and it resulted in negative experiences for everyone.
  • Give it your all for the extent of the internship.  Even if you realize part way through that you’re not interested in doing this as a career, still show up and do everything you can to impress.  The relationships you build with coworkers and managers during your internship can be used to help when you DO find something you love.  Don't leave them thinking you were lazy or uninterested.

Ask Questions

  • Take every opportunity to ask questions! Don't be the "silent" intern!
  • Ask questions when you don't understand something.
  • Asking questions means you are eager to learn and that is what we like to see out of our interns.

See the Big Picture

  • Realize that an internship for most companies is an extended interview.  While we won't necessarily monitor every second of every day, people are watching and making note of both the positive and potentially negative aspects of our interns’ time with us.
  • Treat the position as a job – it’s a great time to show your skills and value, often resulting in much more significant roles and responsibilities being offered to you.  This will result in a more productive, interesting, and rewarding experience, and will increase your odds of getting a full time job offer.

Be Professional

  • A lot of interns do not take into consideration their personal life and how it affects their jobs. Things that you do and post to social media can affect you in your career.  If you are applying for a professional organization then you must be professional at all times.
  • Professionalism and punctuality are important regardless of the company or discipline.
  • Don't use phones during work to text friends.

Adapted from UW Seattle's Career & Internship Center resources