Take Charge of Your Internship

Too often students are reluctant to take the initiative when they are at an internship.  If I was a recruiter or employer, I would  look for individuals who asked questions, wanted to reach outside of their comfort zone, and take charge of a project.

My advice to current and future interns is to do just that—take charge.  Do not act in a way that would step on the toes of your supervisor, but in a way that would show them you are willing to take chances and make a name for yourself.   This is a time to reflect on your strengths and how to best utilize them for the company.  Use the knowledge you have gained in the classroom and from your professors and apply it to the internship.  Because in the end, the point of the internship is to gain applicable, real-world experience.   Do not be afraid to seek out advice and exposure from other departments.  If you are an HR intern but want to learn more about the Public Relations side of a company, ask your immediate supervisor if you would be able to visit with the company’s PR staff.

When given a project by your supervisor, be sure you completely understand the expectations before you get too deep into it.  Your supervisor would much rather you ask questions than attempt completion based on a hopeful guess.  If there is an opportunity to create a presentation and share your work with a group, jump on it.  This shows initiative, communication skills, and creativity.

Having a great attitude about your internship and putting 100% effort into each assignment will show that you are willing to go above and beyond.   This is an opportunity to learn how to collaborate, work as a team, and grow as an individual.  You never know where this internship could lead to, perhaps you could be asked back for another internship or be hired on as a full-time employee.  Remember that the little things you do make a difference-the way you dress, act, and carry yourself will help you stand apart and get noticed by those in upper level management.

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Mary Delaney

Mary Delaney works at the University of Oklahoma in the Career Services office as an Assistant Director for the College of Arts & Sciences and Internship/Co-op Coordinator. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from University of Texas at San Antonio and a Masters of Education from the University of Oklahoma.