DePaul University Career Center's Blog

So You Scored Your First Internship? 10 Tips for Success

By: Chloe Leuthaeuser, DePaul University Communications and Media Major ‘17

Are you feeling a little uncertain about starting a new internship? Heed these 10 student and supervisor-approved tips to get the most out of your internship and wow your coworkers.

1. Go in open-minded and be willing to do something new. Internships can turn into some of the most formative and worthwhile experiences. They allow you to dive into tasks, roles or projects you never expected to attempt; but, if you keep an open mind, you can learn something from these new or unfamiliar experiences. Supervisors will appreciate your willing attitude! Internships can also lead you to new cities or industries. Embrace every aspect and don’t be afraid to welcome the unknown.

2. Even if you initially don’t love an industry, give it a second chance. There is so much to learn from every industry—from technology, consumer goods, healthcare or fashion—and it’s extremely advantageous for you to have a diverse list of experiences under your belt, especially as you continue to explore career avenues.

3. Set specific goals for yourself and communicate them with your supervisor early on. Although this may just seem like a class assignment, do it! If you set measurable goals for yourself, you can track progress and better understand the importance of target dates and staying on track. Creating goals and measuring your success will come in handy during future job interviews as well; you will be able to communicate to employers exactly what you achieved and how you got there. Plus, creating your own goals is also a great way to make sure you’re getting what you want out of the internship.

4. Say yes to everything you can. Doing an extra research project? Lending a hand to a new team? Helping plan a new event? Getting drinks with coworkers? Yes, yes, yes and yes. The connections and experiences that form during your internship may come when you least expect it, so get in the habit of saying yes—but make sure you can follow through, of course!

5. Ask, “How can I help?” Offer a helping hand before coworkers even ask. Even if they don’t need help at that moment, they will surely remember your eagerness to get your hands dirty and help out. This shows you are willing to take initiative and are proactively seeking projects.

6. Timing really is everything. Internships are designed to teach you how to deal with managers, stress, multiple projects, and deadlines. Get in the habit of asking your supervisor when a deadline is and approximately how long that project will take. Then, check your list of other projects and deadlines, and appropriately respond. It’s OK to say no if you have too much on your plate! Quality is better than quantity in these situations.

7. Take time to talk to your coworkers and supervisors. Sometimes the most rewarding parts of an internship are the lasting connections you make. Consider this:

  • Ask supervisors and higher-ups for informational interviews over lunch or coffee
  • Sit and chat with coworkers close to your age
  • Pick everyone’s brain about everything—from their career path, insights on the industry or company, or tips for someone in your shoes

8. Put in the extra effort. Put your best effort into every assignment. Your hard work will not go unnoticed. Even if you don’t see the point of an assignment, it was assigned for a reason. If you demonstrate your capabilities early on with easy tasks it is almost guaranteed that you will be given more substantial projects later on.

9. Have a good attitude. Millennials sometimes get a bad rap for acting entitled and having a bad attitude, but prove that image wrong! Plus, a little positivity will significantly improve your experience (even if you’re not doing something you love).

10. Make some time for yourself. Take advantage of your situation! Don’t burn yourself out within the first few weeks by working on weekends and nights if you don’t have to. You can still put in hard work and get noticed without working overtime. You’re allowed to have a little fun, too!

Now, go out there and wow your new coworkers!



%d bloggers like this: