Your first internship can be an intimidating experience. Surrounded by professionals in a business environment, new interns tend to have many questions, and sometimes miss out on great opportunities. Recent intern testimonials from Temple University’s Sigma Chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma show common trends among students who completed internships. Many of these students had rewarding summers, but many also missed some great networking and project opportunities.
The biggest opportunity interns saw was to build a network. Through activities such as sporting events and happy hours, interns have the chance to build relationships with professionals even before they begin their full-time careers. Many interns realize late in the summer that asking questions and organizing individual meetings are invaluable opportunities. A quick email stating “Would you have time to chat about your work over coffee?” can lead to an eye-opening conversation that would otherwise remain unknown. Companies appreciate this curiosity, and the vast majority of people are happy to take time out of their day to discuss their work with interns. This opportunity to ask questions and hold meetings is especially important to take advantage of, especially if you have a mentor. Mentors can provide information and guidance that might lead to a valuable network of professional contacts. Remember, the more people you build a relationship with, the more they can vouch for you when the company is deciding which interns to hire permanently.
Internships are not meant solely for learning and having fun, but also for you to contribute to the company. Companies do not hire interns to sit around; companies hope to provide interns with meaningful projects so they can better the organization. These projects often have some ambiguity and give you a chance to apply your own perspective. Applying what you learn in class, formal training sessions, and informal conversations will impress your supervisor and result in a better, more thoroughly completed project. Companies provide training materials specifically because they apply to your internship. Applying what you learn in these trainings, along with conversations you have with your department, will show your focus and attentiveness. Previous interns commonly noted the best part of their summers was the sense of reward and pride after providing meaningful assistance to their employers. One intern even noted that she had the opportunity to change the company’s incorrect pricing calculations which made her feel valued as an employee.
While internships may be daunting at first, most find experiences to be challenging, rewarding, and fun. Many students look back on their internships and realize they have made contacts and friends to keep for years to come. As long as you work hard and use your resources during your internship, you are bound to have a successful and rewarding experience.
About William Thorsson:
William graduated in May 2014, from an accelerated three-year track at Temple University. He received his bachelor’s degree in both “risk management and insurance” and “actuarial science.” During his undergraduate career, William completed two internships and was Vice President of Professional Development of the Gamma Iota Sigma, Sigma Chapter.