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Starting an Internship? Here's How to Make the Most of It

Adapted from a National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) resource written by Chaim Shapiro.

Congratulations—it’s the last day of finals week! I bet you’re looking forward to your summer internship, and you might even be a little nervous. Internships are an incredible opportunity, and you will want to hit the ground running to take full advantage. Here are 6 tips to make the most of your internship/ co-op right from the first day!

1) Understand the Opportunity. Companies have internship programs so that they can test drive the talent. They want to see you and how well you work in a professional setting.  Take your responsibilities seriously from day one.  A successful internship is the best way into many companies full-time!

2) Recognize that They WANT to Hire You. Most interns don’t realize that the company is invested in your success. If you were hired as an intern, that means they believe you have the right skills to make an excellent full-time employee. The human resources professionals who run the internship programs are aiming for a high “conversion rate” from interns to full-time employees. From the company’s perspective, a higher conversion rate means that the internship program was well recruited and well run. That means they want to hire you. Give them what they want!

3) Know the Company. This may seem obvious, but employees tend to be passionate about their company. Make sure you know everything there is to know about the company before you start. Your knowledge and expertise will help you stand out compared to less-prepared interns.

4) Learn Your Role. Most companies hire interns to work in a specific subdivision of the company. Learn the mission of that department and your role in it. Success begins with mastering your role and exceeding the expectations for your position. It is much easier to be successful when you know what you are supposed to accomplish.

5) Ask Questions. While you want to be well-versed about the company and position—remember that you are a new employee. No one wants to work with a know-it-all and chances are very high that you don’t actually know everything. Ask questions when you are unsure and be curious as you learn and explore your new responsibilities.

6) Network, Network, Network! Network as much and as often as you can during your internship. Do not miss a company social or networking event. Attend the company barbecue, lunch and learns, socials, etc. Try to make a positive impression on a large number of people. Your network will be essential for your future success, both at that company and beyond. (And don’t forget to follow up periodically with your growing network.)

BONUS TIP: While at your summer internship/ co-op, be sure to take photos of the amazing things you do. Whether it be an intern social event or a project you’re permitted to share—we want to see! Kappa Theta Epsilon (KTE) is sponsoring a contest, and anytime during the summer term (deadline August 16th) you can email your favorite 3 photos to for a chance to win 1 of 3 Amazon gift cards! More contest information HERE.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

About the author

Ashley Taylor

Ashley Taylor is a Career Counselor at Engineering Career Services.