|  May 16, 2014

How to be the best summer intern in your office

It was a rough winter but warmer days have finally rolled around. Semesters are ending and students are leaving campus to start their summer internships – perhaps you’re one of them.

I know a few things about internships because I ran intern programs for 5 of the years I worked in recruiting in 2 very competitive, fast-paced industries – fashion and finance. I recruited for the programs, I ran them, and I saw people do so well that their managers were practically begging us to hire them at the end of the summer (and of course I also saw many who had the opposite effect).

So in the spirit of summer, let’s discuss 4 super impactful things you can do to be the best summer intern around:

5-15-14 - Internships - How to be the best summer intern in your office

Take it seriously

Yes, you’re in college and yes, it’s summer, but my first tip is to treat this internship as seriously as you would your first job. Most programs are designed to be fun and hopefully you’re interning with fun people in a fun city, but people on your team and around the office will notice if you’re too social, rolling in 10 minutes late every morning, or just taking it easy in general.

When you’re given a task, write it down, ask for details, smile… even if you’re running an errand, take. it. seriously. Trust me that even the little things that seem trivial impact a business and can be important.

Remember that consistency is key. It’s easy to handle this one during your first week but it’s a marathon not a sprint.

Be hungry

Many skills can be taught, and that’s what a summer internship is all about – learning. But “hunger” is not one of them.

The best interns I’ve seen don’t just do the task you asked them to do and then hang around for the rest of the day. They’re constantly hungry, looking to learn and observe new things.

When you’re having a day where you just feel like you want to go home, remember how hard you worked to actually get this internship. You have 10 weeks (for most programs) to make the most out of it so make it count.

Be proactive

This might be the most important one on my list. A company has an intern program because they need support (and of course it’s a great pipeline for hiring). It’s for their benefit first.

So the better you can support your summer manager and your team, the more positive impression you’ll make and the more they will see you as an indispensable resource. Supporting isn’t just about doing what’s asked of you – it’s about going many steps beyond that.

Finish up an assignment and ask for a new one. Meet someone in the office outside of your team and ask to learn more about what they do. Have someone come and speak to the group? Write a thank you note. There are so many different ways to be proactive… and it is a quality that everyone can’t get enough of.

Be flexible – ask for feedback + adjust

Unfortunately for all of us, we’re not perfect. Especially when the working world is new for you, you’re not going to hit the nail on the head every time. Some managers are better than others about providing feedback, but you should always ask for it.

As you hand in a project ask “Is there anything I could have done differently or keep in mind for next time?” I can’t tell you how much of an asset that one question will be to you.

If you go through a whole summer doing a certain quality of work but only hear the feedback at the end, you’ve lost your chance to wow your team and the company. Catch something early on? You can quickly adjust and get better every week. I know it can be awkward, but trust me, it’s better to know than not know.


Are you about to start a summer internship? Leave a comment with other questions you have and I’ll answer them in an upcoming post. Have you managed interns? What are your big tips?

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