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How can students prepare for success in an internship?

Internships are valuable opportunities for professional development and are great resume builders for any student. Performing your best can have benefits such as: 

  • It may lead to employment. According to NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), more than half of interns in 2022 became full-time employees (NACE, 2022). 
  • Even if the employer can’t hire you, they will serve as a great reference and can introduce you to contacts at other organizations. 
  • It will make you competitive for your field of interest. 
  • You represent not only yourself but the college 

To Be Truly Successful, Strive to Be Someone: 

  • Whom they will be sad to see go and would take back in a heartbeat 
  • Whom people at all levels are glad to have on the team 
  • Who is “Irreplaceable”  
  • People say it will not be the same without you  
  • People consider to be overall exceptional 
  • Who leaves with an excellent reputation 


Be Sure You Set Realistic Expectations: 

  • You have to start somewhere! At first, you might be asked to do work that seems “boring”.  
  • Things may be different than what was described, go with it! 
  • You may have to learn by doing, rather than being given training or direction 
  • You are interning likely because your manager/team needs the extra support which means you may 
  • Most importantly, social skills and being a great teammate is just as important as working hard!  

By dedicating yourself to your work and becoming responsible for more duties, Employers will develop a relationship of trust and reliability. 



When you first begin working with the organization, learn the written and unwritten rules of the office. This can be in the form of: 

  • What to wear 
  • Resources and office documents available to you 
  • The culture 
  • What is expected of you 
  • Key people/those highly respected 
  • Terminology/acronyms 
  • Other office norms 

By doing the above, and reviewing the office documents and conducting your own research you will learn as much as you can about the organization/department you are interning with. 

Asking Questions: 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Make sure any questions you ask are specific and questions that you can’t find answers to on your own. Here are some questions you may want to ask when you first begin: 

  • What is the best way to get more information about the company? 
  • Who are the people to know? Get names/titles 
  • How does a new employee leave a positive impression? 
  • Does your supervisor have any pet peeves?  
  • What is the best way to get time with people (e-mail, schedule it on their calendar, their assistant, etc.)? 
  • How do they like to receive information? 
  • How often should you update them on a project’s status? 
  • What are the expectations for you and your work?  How does someone exceed expectations? 
  • What advice or learning lessons do they have for you? 

This is the first page from our series on “How to be a Stand-Out Intern”. Check out the next two pages:
2. Stand Out While in an Internship
3. Make the Best out of Ending an Internship

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