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San Diego State University

Career Services

Tips for a Successful Internship

Securing an internship is only the beginning! A lot of hard work and dedication goes into creating an experience that is both meaningful and beneficial to you and to the employer.  Following are some tips on how to make your internship experience a successful one:

Identify

The first step to a successful internship is being able to identify what industry and position you are interested in working in. Some things to think about include: the environment you want to work in, what projects or tasks would you enjoy completing, and what your own professional goals are. Tip: use an assessment tool to help you assess your personality type, interests, values, and possible career paths.

Question

The wonderful part about an internship is that you have to opportunity to ask a lot of questions. Take this time to become educated about the company or organization you are interning with, understand their structure, mission, and function of the work space.

Your site supervisor is there to serve as your mentor and resources of information. Don’t be shy about asking the why or how questions. They understand that this is a learning experience for you and are there to support you.

Engage

Don’t be afraid to jump right in when you start you internship. This is your chance to gain on-the-job experience and really engage in hands-on learning within your field of interest.

Take on any and every project you have the chance to do, whether it is a large or small. This will show your commitment and work ethic and likely lead to other projects during your internship.

Actively engage with your co-workers and be a team player; this will enrich the experience for everyone.

Learn

Really take this opportunity to learn from those around you, especially the individuals who have been in the industry for many years. Ask them about their experience and the road to their current position.

Conduct an informational interview with someone whose position interests you or you could see yourself doing in the future.

This is your opportunity to learn from them and engage in meaningful conversations about their experience and to form a solid network that will continue after your internship.

Reflect

The foundation of experiential education is the element of reflection done throughout the experience and at its completion. In order to develop a summary of the skills and knowledge you learned both professionally and personally reflecting on your experience is essential.

This will also help you to articulate to an employer in an interview or conversation what the key points and take aways from your internship experience were and what transferable skills you will bring to the next position or experience you have.

How do I deal with problems?

What if problems arise with your internship? Talk with your supervisor or departmental internship coordinator to see if the situation can be modified. Internships should benefit both you and your employer.

 



Note: Adapted from Oregon State University's Career Services website.

Learn the Why's, How's, and Now What's of Internship

Career Services offers the Internships and You! workshop series (Internship 101, 201, and 301) designed to perpare you for a successful internship search and expereince. We highly recommend that you participate in these workshops as a first step on your road to intern success.  View the Workshops & Events calendar for scheduled workshop and descriptions.

Photo: Matt Schauer


Matthew Schauer, ’11, has lived in rural China since 2012. While still at SDSU, he was awarded a semester-long internship at the U.S. State Department. The experience gave him a taste of life as a public servant.

“I want to find new and innovative ways to help struggling economies,” Schauer said. “I think I’m good at figuring out how all the pieces fit together for long-term solutions. It’s the kind of analysis that I learned at SDSU, and it has helped me get to where I am in my career.”  [more]