You may have landed the internship, but there’s still a lot you need to do to set yourself up for success
By Team chea seed
Congrats on landing the internship! All those late nights of studying, all that time you spent perfecting your résumé and cover letter—it’s all paid off.
Unfortunately, you don’t have much time to relax and enjoy your triumph. Your work is just beginning—and we don’t mean the actual work of the internship. We mean the work that’s required so that you can get the most out of this experience and position yourself for the future.
But don’t worry too much. We interviewed HR experts and read countless articles to put together this step-by-step guide to maximizing any internship program.
Network to get prepared BEFORE the job starts. Reach out to the folks who interviewed you, as well as people who will be on your team or who have worked at the company before, to get a sense of what success looks like at this company, what appropriate dress is, and (if it’s an in-person role) whether there are any tricks to shortening the commute.
Before your first day, sit down to make a success plan. Imagine the internship goes perfectly. What would that look like? What would that mean for your long-term career goals? Write down the top five specific things that need to happen for that vision to be realized.
Bring a flexible, can-do attitude. If you only do one thing right at your internship, let it be this one. If you’re already nailing the job, a great attitude will boost you to the top of the candidate list if a full-time job offer is on the table. Even if you aren’t excelling, the right attitude can go a long way toward making up for that.
Get clear expectations. Even if you have a to-do list for your internship, you need to talk to more experienced folks about what success actually means for your role. It might simply mean completing every item on the list. But it could also mean dedicating yourself 200 percent to one item on the list and just 70 percent to the rest. It might mean supporting team members who are not even mentioned in your to-do list. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
Keep a record of what you do. Unless you have a perfect memory, you’ll need to take a few moments every week to write down two or more things you accomplished. By the time the internship is over, you’ll have a detailed list you can bring to your end-of-internship review, use as the basis for a LinkedIn update, or reference while you’re prepping for your next interview.
Talk yourself up. In school, your professors know exactly how well you’re doing, all the time—they grade every assignment, read every paper, and look at every exam you complete. But this isn’t school. Your manager has a job to do, and you can’t count on them noticing each and every time you learn a new skill, get a shoutout from a colleague, or go the extra mile on an assignment. So even if the thought of talking yourself up makes you literally cringe, start telling your manager how well you’re doing—and what other things you might want to learn.
Build relationships. The most valuable thing you can take away from this internship isn’t the work experience, or even the money. It’s the relationships you built, and the connections you made, with everyone you met. Be curious about others in your company and try to get to know them.
Check your progress and pivot if you need to. Midway through the internship, do a check-in with your manager, teammates, and any other trusted individuals at the organization. Ask this question: what can I improve on to succeed?
Be open to all outcomes. No matter how much you want a job offer or any other outcome, the reality is that it may not happen. But if you’ve kept track of your accomplishments and networked with your colleagues, you’ll still have gained a lot from the experience.
Wrap it up professionally. You’ve done all the hard work. Now, it’s time to make it count. Before you leave, take the time to ask for at least one recommendation, give gratitude, and make a follow-up plan. Be sure to connect to the team through LinkedIn and keep up on those relationships.