Landing an internship in the field in which you hope to work can be a major challenge, but it is just the beginning. Put as much, or more, effort into achieving goals you set for yourself during the internship. Focus on your initial reasons for wanting this particular internship. Well defined short-term goals established before you begin the internship will help ensure the experience helps achieve your long-term goal -- launching a career in your chosen field.
Who you know can be as important as what you know. Internships are an excellent opportunity to network with established professionals in the field you plan to pursue. Make it your goal to find a mentor and develop relationships. This will help you get more out of the internship and can help you when you leave. The communication skills you acquire in the process will also prove to be an asset in your professional endeavors.
Set educational goals for your internship. While you may have gained knowledge in the classroom, much more can be learned as you apply this knowledge in the workplace. Tell your mentor what you hope to learn. While the duties you preform will be a learning experience, develop a specific plan aimed at acquiring additional skills that will enhance your appeal to employers. If you are unsure of the exact skills needed in your intended career, consult with those you meet during the internship.
The internship affords you a valuable opportunity to get a feel for the industry you hope to one day be a part of. Optimize your time. Seek opportunities to learn new skills or cross-train in additional areas. Try new things and remain open-minded. Reflect on your daily responsibilities to help determine if this line of work is right for you. A major objective of any internship program is to exposure students and recent graduates to a specific career path before they make a further commitment to it.
Use the internship to help build a solid resume. Get as much industry-related experience as possible by taking on a range of responsibilities. Ask yourself how each experience will enhance your resume. Focus on developing marketable skills. Foster relationships with coworkers and supervisors who can later be called on to provide references.
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.