Advice for your first internship

17th February 2022
Advice for your first internship

This summer is your time to shine. So we explore how you can make the most of your experience and use it to shape a successful career.


#1 Start with relentless punctuality
Show up on time (or early), arrive for meetings before they begin, and complete tasks by their deadlines. Summer internships are for a short, defined period of time, so give it 100%. Be willing to get to the office early and stay late. As an intern, you are both a guest in a new environment and a colleague on whom others must rely — make sure that you respect those colleagues by being on time.


#2 Know your goals
Some interns have their career plans mapped out and treat an internship as a stepping stone to get their dream job, some want to try out an industry or role and see if it’s a career they’d like to pursue past their internship; either way is fine and an internship will help you massively.

Whichever camp you’re in be sure to set yourself some achievable goals that will help you in your future career.

For example, you may know for your dream job you must have excellent public speaking skills. If your internship doesn’t automatically offer many opportunities for this, you could volunteer to present the results of a piece of work or team project. You’ll not only set a great impression but you’ll gain more confidence and more experience – a win-win, don’t be shy 🙂


#3 Watch and Learn
You can learn a great deal about the company and the industry from observation and reflection. What can you pick up that people might not tell you directly? This is also a good way to learn about how to behave in the workplace. Which of your colleagues are admired by fellow team members… and why?

You may decide, over the course of your internship, that the employer is not a good match for you. You might come to the same conclusion about the kind of work you are doing or the industry as a whole. Even so, you should still do your best to make a good impression. It’s a small world and the contacts you make and the skills you pick up could be very valuable later on. You should also think about why you’ve decided it isn’t for you, and try to use the experience to pinpoint your new direction.


#4 Get yourself noticed – for the right reasons
Working hard, making a contribution to the team and coming up with new ideas is great, but it won’t get you very far if nobody realises you’re doing it. Talk to colleagues about what you’re working on and find out about their projects. Be straightforward and factual about what you’ve achieved and what you hope to do next; you should never make out that you know everything and aren’t there to learn, but neither should you be self-deprecating or overly modest.

Don’t underestimate the power of your network to talk you up.


#5 Be proactive
Even at intern level, employers like staff who bring something extra to the business. If you have a new idea or can see a way of improving processes, suggest it. If any interesting challenges come up, be prepared to take them on, even if it means extra work or attempting something that is out of your comfort zone. All of this will help you get noticed and will give you the experience you need to work at a higher level. Even if you want to work elsewhere, having examples of when you have been proactive will stand you in good stead and will help you in your applications and interviews.

A word of warning, though: don’t get so distracted by trying to be innovative that you forget to do the tasks you’ve been delegated!


#6 Be resourceful
In a new environment, doing something different (which will be the case in your internship), you will come across challenges and things that you don’t know – it’s perfectly normal. How can you find the answers you need?

Before asking your colleagues or manager could you research the topic through guides and materials available to you or do some online research? Your employer will think highly of you if they see that you are resourceful and capable of solving problems.

If you can’t find a solution to your problem yourself or it’s taking way too long to find the answer, go ahead and ask but if you explain that you’ve taken the initiative to try and find the answer by yourself first you’ll be sure to recognised as a star intern.


#7 Build your network
Take advantage of working alongside people who are doing the job you want to find out about; ask them how they got there and what the work is like.

Never be afraid to introduce yourself to colleagues. Chances to find out more from your colleagues will present themselves naturally during the time you spend in the same building, but you need to be ready to make the first move.

If you are invited to attend work-related social events, make sure you’re going. It will give you the chance to build relationships with your fellow colleagues and potentially other contacts in the industry. Your new network will be an invaluable source of advice and insight, and may also help you find out about work experience and job opportunities.

When your internship finishes, apart from asking if your manager would be happy to provide you with a reference, ask your contacts if they’d be happy to stay in contact after your internship. If they are, you can exchange email addresses and connect through social media. LinkedIn is the most professional choice, followed by Twitter. Follow these connections up by dropping them a quick ‘thank you’ message soon after you finish your internship. If you already know that there’s something specific you’d like from any of your contacts in the future, such as feedback on a new CV, it’s better to ask the question face to face.


#8 Take notes
To make the most of your internship experience, you’ll definitely want to make sure it’s well articulated in your CV and in future interview. To do that you’ll need to remember the detail of what you’ve done. So, while you’re doing your internship, when you get home remember to write them down and don’t forget!

Think about:

  • What you’ve worked on
  • Who you worked with
  • Training received
  • Software used
  • Skills learnt and improved
  • Feedback you’ve received, particularly praise!

So there you have it, our top tips to make the most of your internship. We hope this advice has been helpful. We’re not just here to find you an internship, we’ll support you all the way with expert advice from our team.


This summer is your Time to Shine. Register with the Humber Internship Programme (HIP) today.

Related posts

My internship helped me become a leader that others can rely on.

My internship helped me become a leader that others can rely on.

Find out more
My software development skills helped Tick9 deliver more client projects

My software development skills helped Tick9 deliver more client projects

Find out more