4 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Summer Internship

We’re halfway through March, which means summer is right around the corner. If you’re a college student, that means summer internships are looming—in a good way! Summer internships provide relevant experience and professional relationships that will set you up for success post-college. They’re critical to understanding the layout of the professional world.

So roll up your sleeves and dig into these four big tips to make the most out of your summer internship. Take this summer to do more than the job description. Show up ready to learn every day, and you’ll automatically impress the colleagues around you.

1. Manage Up to Improve Your Work

Managing up is a way for you to manage your manager. It’s a method of career development that’s based on consciously working for the mutual benefit of yourself and your boss. Managing up is a valuable skill because it teaches you how to take ownership and find direction at work without being directed by your boss 100% of the time. Managing up shows your supervisor that you can add value to the organization all on your own.

Managing up is all about communication, so figure out how your supervisor likes to communicate and do it often. Remember to give your supervisor updates on the status of your work at the frequency they prefer. But don’t just share your work, ask for feedback.

As an intern, you’re there to contribute value, but you’re also there to learn. Be a sponge. Ask about the quality of your work or inquire as to whether your presentation skills need improvement. Whatever you want to work on, ask!

At the start of your internship, set up 1:1 time with your supervisor to talk about your growth, your challenges, and your questions once a week. If you work with other staff beyond your boss, ask them for feedback as well. We can always improve, and the best advice will come from those working closest with us.

2. Shake Hands with Everyone in the Office

Harkening back to last week’s blog, get out from behind your desk!

Make yourself known. Make it your mission to introduce yourself to everyone in the office. Be brave in the kitchen, extend your hand, and state your name loud and proud. Get to know the people around you. You don’t have to go deep, but aim to put a face to every name on that Outlook email list. Get to know the different departments and their job roles.

When you see someone new, try out the phrase “Hi! I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Carmen Vernon, an intern on the Partner Solutions team.” Your colleague will share their name and position and you can ask them about their role and history with the company after the initial ice is broken.

Sometimes your supervisor will neglect to formally introduce you to the team. That’s okay. That gives you an opportunity to show initiative.

3. Focus on Building One or Two Relationships

Now that you’ve shaken everyone’s hands, it’s time to figure out who you click with. At the end of your internship, you should be able to stay in touch with one or two of your colleagues, and they should feel equipped to be a reference for you in your job search post-college.

Get lunch with these colleagues or chat with them every morning over coffee in the kitchen. Share your career ambitions with them, so they can be a resource to you in your professional growth.

If you’re finding it difficult to form relationships on your own team, you can form this relationship with your supervisor or anyone else in the organization.Seek out collaboration with different teams.

4. Take Advantage of Being a Student

There are more people to meet outside the office, so spend your summer seeking out informational interviews.

When you’re a student, scheduling informational interviews is easy because by virtue of being a student you’re still in a learning phase. When someone gets a cold email from you, they’ll be more likely to respond. Or if someone meets you at an event, they’ll be more likely to want to help in your career.

Over the course of the summer, take people you admire out to coffee, out to lunch, or out to drinks. Pick their brain. Ask them about their job and how they got to where they are. Ask them about their industry and delve into their specialty or niche.

But make sure you end the informational interview talking about yourself: what you’ve done and where you hope to go. Before you part ways, make sure you also ask them if there’s anyone else they can connect you to in their space or industry.

Bottom line: Internships should leave you with new connections for your network and new bullet points for your resume. So get ready to immerse yourself and soak up all the knowledge.

What other tips do you have for college students soon to embark on a summer internship?