How to Show Initiative in Your Summer Internship

By Kaitlin Hurtado on July 13, 2017

While the thought of signing your summer away to commit to a summer internship is near the bottom of your summer bucket list, summer internships are near essential when it comes to gaining much-needed work experience to help you land the post-graduation full-time job that every college student desires.

Having a summer internship under your belt will look great on your work resume; however, you should try to make the most of your summer internship by showing initiative using the following methods.

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Network while you can

Summer internships are the perfect opportunity to network with both professionals in your desired field and your fellow interns. Instead of limiting your interaction with the company’s employees to only when you are required to talk to them for an assigned task, take initiative and introduce yourself to those employees that you sit next to in the break room or meet during meetings. Having company employees know you by both name and face will do wonders for your time in the summer internship and even after.

If you stay connected to company employees after your summer internship, you have an active connection you can use as a reference for future positions and a person to help you if you seek a job in that company full-time. If they know you by both name and face, they will be more likely to give you a recommendation and an even more thorough one as they are more likely to know you as a potential employee.

The worst thing that could happen if you fail to take advantage of your summer internship as a place to network is being known as “that summer intern” and being forgotten as soon as a new intern is hired.

Along with networking with established employees, talk to fellow summer interns if you are not the only one. Networking with fellow interns will give you the chance to have someone help you on a professional and personal level as you are likely to be going through the same things as summer interns. It also shows your ability to collaborate with coworkers if you are taking initiative to reach out to another employee on your own.

Be in the know 

Depending on your level of experience in the career field associated with your summer internship, knowledge of what you are actually doing may vary. If the summer internship is more hands-on (like working in a lab, shadowing a professional), you may already be expected to have a better grasp of what you are supposed to be doing.

Prepare yourself by researching the type of work you will be doing beforehand. Research the company and what they are known for. Look at their growth and recent projects so you get a feel for the company atmosphere, work, and where they are headed in the future. If an employee asks you about something that happened in the company recently and you have no knowledge of it, you can look uninterested in the company you are interning for. If you are ready to discuss the issue, it shows that you took initiative to make yourself more aware of the company news and will be more involved with the company you are interning with.

Ask questions

Regardless of whether it is in a classroom setting or in the workplace, many are afraid to ask questions in fear of looking clueless. However, the benefits of asking questions outweigh whatever you think someone may think of you if you ask a “dumb” question. Not only do you look interested in the subject at hand if you are asking questions, you also are showing that you are ready to learn. When you just nod along when receiving instruction and always say no when asked if there are any questions, there is little to no conversation generated.

Asking questions creates some back-and-forth and some questions can even be accompanied with tips from established employees, making whatever task given a lot easier and giving you know-hows when pursuing a full-time position in the future.

If you ask questions about something you do not know prior to handling a task, any possible negativity surrounding you asking any number of questions will outweigh the negativity that can occur when you do the task wrong and make more work for yourself or other employees to fix the mistake.

Consider your future and there is a possibility of you continuing to work with the company. Ask whoever you report to if there are any openings for other positions or what you would need to do in order to apply for a full-time position in the future. Asking questions about staying within the company shows that you are invested in the company and that they should invest back if you are a potential long-term employee.

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a second year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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