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May 27, 2013

Things You Can Do to Prepare and Make the Most of Your Summer Internship

By Martin Trussi, Second-Year Career Advisor  |  may, 2013, Issue 2
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Martin Trussi


Before you start your internship:

Similar to when you were preparing for interviews, second-year students are your best resource. By now you should understand the company's business and its culture, but it can pay off to understand what your day-to-day responsibilities might be like and how to go about fulfilling them. Different companies have different ways of doing the same thing, and it can even be team-specific. Second-years have been there, and most are willing to spend the time to share their insights and experiences over coffee or a cold beer.

Also, you may want to spend some time getting more comfortable with some of the tools you are likely to use; if you don't, learning them on the job may take time away from actually creating value (e.g., if you struggle with Think-cell you could spend more time creating slides than analyzing data).

Make a list of the things that are important to you regarding the job, the people and the city. It's easy to get so focused on doing well in your internship that you forget that you are also test driving your future life (and not just the job). You can do anything for three months, but you need to ensure that this is somewhere you can be happy long-term.

This may be a no-brainer, but stay up to date with important events - not only regarding the industry, by reading blogs and keeping up with trends, but also try and become more knowledgeable about the region/ location you're working in, especially if you are interning in a country other than your own.

On the job:

First, understand that an offer is by no means a guarantee. This may be obvious for some industries like I-banking, but it also holds true for industries in which most believe the offer is yours to lose; offers per intern are usually lower than you'd expect. Work hard to get an offer even if you are not necessarily planning on going back. It's easier not to have to waste time during an interview explaining why you didn't get one. Additionally, an offer can be a powerful negotiating chip for the full-time position.

Speak with as many people as you can during your internship as you should be evaluating whether this role and the company offer all of the things that are important to you. Don't limit yourself to those working closely with you; talking with people from other divisions can provide powerful insight. Moreover, if you love the firm's culture but decide the job is not right for you, speaking with people outside your team may give you a head start for your full-time search.

Read between the lines and watch carefully for what's really going on. Co-workers may (inadvertently) try to "sell you" on the company, so make sure to keep a vigilant eye to check if what they say holds true.

Stay relaxed. They are not only testing your technical proficiency, they want to make sure you are a great person to work with and that you won't crumble under the pressure.

Last, remember to be yourself. If you are anything like the people I've met during the last two years you'll be more than fine! Best of luck!

Last Updated 5/28/13
Last Updated 5/28/13