You’ve got an internship this summer. Good for you! You have taken a great first step on the path toward developing yourself into a top entry level candidate.
Getting an internship is a good start. But it’s not enough just to have an internship. Here are three things you must do with your internship to make the most it:
1. Deliver something.
Make sure that your internship has quantifiable deliverables. If the specs you are given for your internship are soft, work to make them concrete and specific. What are the key deliverables for your work? This is what will set your internship apart. Not only will you be providing a higher level of value to your internship employer, you will also be building out your content for your resume and your future interviews.
2. Write your resume as you work.
Don’t wait until the end of the internship to take note of key deliverables. As you write your resume, use bullet points to make note of the deliverables as they take place and as the information is fresh in your mind. A fresh resume is an interesting and compelling resume.
3. Get an offer to return.
Most internships are simply several month interviews. You are actively interviewing for a return offer. Either as an intern next summer (if you are entering your Sophomore or Junior year). Or as an entry level hire (if you are entering your Senior year). One of the toughest questions to answer is: “Why aren’t you going back to work for your internship employer after graduation?” The best answer is to say you already have an offer in hand, but are open to exploring other possibilities. The worst answer is to say you didn’t receive an offer.
The internship is your opportunity to earn and learn at the same time. While the employer is evaluating you as a potential employee, you also have the opportunity to review the company as a potential employer. If and when you do get an offer to return, you should be given time to respond, at least through the end of the first semester. If not, ask for it. Then use that time productively to take your offer in hand to either confirm in your mind that it is the best opportunity available or find that opportunity which is better. You now have a baseline and can only do as good or better.
Make the most of your internship. It’s a real job and you are being evaluated. How you handle your internship will affect how you move on to the next step in your career.