Summer Internship: The Intern Diaries

Summer Internship: The Intern Diaries


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by Karis Hustad, Laura Kujava and Annie Gudorf

Somehow, we are only four days away from July.


During the summer it is easy to let the days slip by without notice.  You get into the rhythm of going from job to internship to friends and suddenly a third of the summer has passed you by.

Though the days are speeding away, that doesn’t mean they’re gone forever.  At this point, we decided it is a good time to look back and think about what we’ve learned so far- from the little things (bring something to write with) to the big things (don’t be afraid to ask questions). 

What we’ve learned so far:

  • Be proactive, oftentimes as an intern you find yourself with more than a couple of minutes downtime between projects, so make sure to use that time wisely. Organize your calendar, get ahead, and ask for more work! Your boss is sure to notice the extra effort.
  • Ask questions! It is better to be clear and accurate than confused and quiet!  Plus your boss would rather have you ask a question than do a task wrong and have to start over.
  • Be brave. There is no reason to be afraid to make mistakes; learning is the point of an internship. Your boss does not expect you to be perfect, but instead to work towards perfection.
  • Don’t take constructive criticism as cruel criticism. You are an intern not an expert so don’t be surprised if you need a little extra help.
  • Get to know your co-workers. Not only is it always good to network, but having a laugh with your co-workers helps pass the time. Just make sure your friendship doesn’t inhibit your work and remains professional.
  • Write a to-do list. In the real world you don’t have assignments due at the beginning of class, so you need to self-motivate and remain on top of your projects so that you can get them done in a timely matter. A to-do list helps you stay on point and you feel oh so gratified when you get to cross something off the list.
  • Always have a notepad and pen in hand. You never know when your boss is going to rant about something else for you to do and you always want to be prepared to take notes. 
  • Always dress nicer than you have to. If everyone wears jeans and a casual shirt, dress up a little by maybe wearing dark jeans and a nice blouse or jeans with a blazer. It shows you care about yourself and your work. You might feel weird at first, but after a week or so it becomes natural.
  • Socialize at work! Yes you are at work, but how you interact with your coworkers generates a perception about you.
  • Always ask for more work. If you finish your work, do not just sit there. Ask around who has something for you to do. Even if your boss isn’t in, maybe a coworker is slammed and has a simple task that you could help with. It shows your ambition and that you are eager to learn.
  • Don’t be afraid to schedule time to assess your progress with your boss.  Even a 15 minute conversation gives you an opportunity to make sure you’re on the right track, and they’ll appreciate knowing you want to be sure you’re doing the right thing.
  • Try to meet other people outside of your specific department to get a better idea of how you fit in with the larger organization.
  • Write down basic, important information: passwords, protocol, guidelines, regulations.  It is good to have that information on hand.
  • Write down what you do every day– you’d be surprised how fast the days blur together!

Want a question answered or want to share your internship experience with college students?  Comment below!

And check back next Monday for another edition of “Summer Internship” where we’ll talk intern fashion do’s and don’ts!

Want more?  Check out the ongoing series:

Monday, June 13 “A Tale of Two Interns”

Monday, June 20 “Brave New Interns”

Keep up with Intern Mondays by following us @Chicago_U and liking us on Facebook!

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