Maximizing Your Experience

Student intern at radio station sound board with band in background
Our goal is to help you make the most of your internship experience so it can prepare you for a great career after graduation.

The following tips will help you maximize your internship experience:

  • Establish at least two or three clear learning objectives; set parameters and goals and discuss them with your supervisor
  • Show initiative; ask, don’t wait, for projects to be given to you. Avoid being underused!
  • Speak up if the work is not meeting your goals
  • Demonstrate maturity and exceed your supervisor’s expectations
  • Keep an open mind; avoid jumping to conclusions; develop informed opinions
  • Be observant; note how employees organize their ideas and respond to and ask questions
  • Be fair, considerate, honest, trustworthy and cooperative when dealing with co-workers and clients/customers
  • Assert yourself and your ideas in an appropriate and tactful manner
  • Seek feedback from your supervisor(s), accept suggestions for corrective changes in behavior and attempt to improve your performance
  • Accept constructive criticism and continuously strive to improve and to grow professionally
  • Enhance your professional effectiveness by improving skills and acquiring new knowledge

Reflection is a strategy that sets internships apart from part-time jobs. Reflecting helps students understand and articulate what they have discovered about themselves and about their skills, values, career and personal interests. It also helps students make informed decisions about their career choices and their place in the world of work.

Students who earn academic credit for their internships will be expected to complete some form of reflective assignment(s) such as maintaining a journal, conducting informational interviews or writing a reflective paper. If you are not earning credit, we urge you to maintain a journal and assess your learning experience both during and at the conclusion of your internship.

Sample reflection questions

  • How did your experience meet your initial expectations, perceptions and attitudes about the work and the organization?
  • Did you encounter significant problems or obstacles and, if so, how did you overcome or resolve them?
  • What did you discover about your own knowledge, skills, abilities, values and interests?
  • What was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience? What was your greatest accomplishment?
  • As a result of this experience, how did your self-awareness change about your ability to communicate? Make appropriate communication choices or decisions? Make career choices or decisions? Exhibit a sense of responsibility and maturity? Respond to social issues?
  • How has this experience affected your choice of major/career interest (confirmed, changed, raised questions)?
  • What did you learn from your mentor/supervisor or others in the organization?

Worksite supervisors and other professionals at the internship site can provide additional insight into the company, the profession and the world of work. Conducting an informational interview (PDF) allows students to obtain valuable information about careers, employers, industries, and the job market while improving interview skills and increasing self-confidence. An informational interview is brief (about 15-20 minutes), less formal and lacks the stress of a job interview.