11 Ways to Rock, and Get the Most Out of, Your Internship

by Sandra Hoyer, former Head Editor, INALJ Washington

11 Ways to Rock, and Get the Most Out of, Your Internship

sandra1You just heard you got the internship of your dreams and you are not sure what to do next (other than continue the victory dance up and down your living room). Here are some helpful tips on how to make the most out of your internship experience:

  1. Make a list of your personal goals and objectives before starting your internship. A great way to ensure that you will accomplish everything on your “to do” list is by actually making one. This will give you an excellent roadmap when your internship takes off.
  2. On your first day, or within the first week, discuss and document with your supervisor their expectations and needs.  This document will make it extra clear what is expected of you and will help you avoid any future confusion.
  3. Never procrastinate. Internships fly by. Never put off meeting up with professional contacts, following up with emails, attending workshops etc. These types of opportunities are often gone in the blink of an eye. Follow through is essential in making a positive impression.
  4. Follow through is key. Along the same lines of not procrastinating, as an intern your word is your currency. Never say you will do something unless you plan on following through. Supervisors will be more inclined to give you more complex tasks if they feel they can count on you.
  5. Create an “elevator speech.” What is an “elevator speech,” you ask? An “elevator speech” is a short 2-3 minute blurb about yourself that you can use to introduce yourself should you ever be caught in an elevator with someone who is interested in learning more about you. The “elevator speech” can also be applied to a number of social and networking situations.  Practicing the “elevator speech” means knowing what to say when seemingly innocent, but stump-worthy questions come up (“What do you want to do with that degree..?”).
  6. Dress to impress. The old saying goes, dress for the job you want. It is not necessary to have runway model fashion chops, but always dress appropriately for the workday ahead of you. For example: if you have a meeting with your supervisor it is a nice touch to dress up and wear a suit jacket and tie, sports coat, or blazer (or any other combination of professional dress).
  7. Expand your social circle. Making friends during an internship is fun and can make it more enjoyable. Just remember that an internship is a time for you to develop professionally and not just socially. Never confine yourself to a clique and try to meet as many people as possible.
  8. Always spell check! I cannot stress this enough. Your work is important and will be used in a professional capacity. Always ensure that the quality of your work meets, or surpasses, your supervisor’s expectations.
  9. Prepare for all presentations. Chances are that as an intern you will be asked to present your findings or work deliverables.  Being prepared for these presentations will be crucial and will reflect on you professionally. Creating a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation will help you stay on point and also provide a wonderful visual for those attending.
  10. Write everything you do down as you are doing it. Keeping a list of all the projects, presentations, and activities you were part of will help you immensely down the line when you are trying to incorporate your internship into your resume.  Waiting until the end rarely provides a full list of all your accomplishments.
  11. Lastly, have your supervisor look over your resume before you leave your internship for any helpful tips or edits. Having your supervisor look over your internship resume entry before you leave will give you the chance to get some input on what to add or how to improve it. This will also allow your supervisor to be the most helpful since your work is still fresh in their minds.

Now get out there and kick some internship derrière!


reprinted from 3/13/13

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ.com. INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 


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