When you are applying for internships:
1. Research the position itself: the journal, the organization, the company, or the project for which you want to work. Knowing about an organization conveys your genuine interest in working for it.
2. Keep a log of the research you do. Whether you get a particular internship or not, the information you collect will help you understand the kinds of organizations in which you will eventually find a more permanent place.
When you get an internship:
3. Dress appropriately for the intern position. Consider this internship as your first professional job (whether you are paid or receiving academic credit), and make sure your appearance is consistent with that role.
4. Commit entirely to your work during internship hours (no homework, cell phone use, or other distractions). If there are periods when you have no tasks, ask your supervisor for ways to fill them.
5. Treat this time commitment as you would a professional job and arrive promptly. If you must miss work for some reason, give your employer as much notification as possible, find out how your absence inconveniences others, and look for ways to make up for the lost time.
6. Keep a log of your hours and tasks. If possible, keep examples of the kind of work you are doing or, at least, describe your activities and accomplishments in a journal. This record, with detailed examples, will be useful when you need to describe your qualifications for future positions.
7. Identify some person in authority from whom you might request a letter of recommendation–if not your immediate supervisor, then someone else in the company who has seen your work. Such recommendations will be useful when you apply for jobs in the future.
8. Start building your network. Other people at your work site may be able to help you research other occupations related to your internship work, find further training, or locate a paid position.
9. Keep track of any new ideas or suggestions you present, whether or not your employer chooses to act on them. These examples will help you figure out the kinds of contributions you can make to an organization and they will be key in your application letters and interviews, where you need to show your initiative and enthusiasm.
When the internship is completed:
10. Write a thank-you note to your employer at the end of the internship. This letter does not have to be long, but it should highlight the two to three major skills that you have learned and contributed to the organization.
11. Keep Dr. Kirstin Wilcox informed your job successes after the internship.
12. If an internship doesn’t work out for any reason or if the internship shows you that a particular line of work is less appealing to you than you thought, seek a different internship. Different kinds of internships will build on your skills and give you further insight into your career strengths.