How to Make the Most of Your Internship by Haley Supergan

April 28, 2021

Each year, there are thousands of internship opportunities waiting to be filled by brilliant, aspiring students and recent graduates. In order to make the most out of these incredible opportunities, it is important to consider many factors in finding the perfect fit for you.

Here are some tips to help with your search:

  • Decide if you can accept an unpaid internship, or if you need to take a paid opportunity. Some organizations will offer to pay you a stipend or provide you with school credit. It is important to weigh these options as you decide what to apply for and which offers to accept.
  • Decide if you want to move for the position, work remotely, or stay close to home. Especially in the political world, there are countless opportunities in DC and other cities that may require you to temporarily move away from home or school. If you want to stay close to home, you can look at local think tanks, Congressional district offices, local media groups, and more. Since COVID, more organizations are moving to remote work for all their employees, so be sure to ask about what options are now available.
  • Apply to more than one place. Thousands of students apply to internships every year, and the applicant pool is typically very competitive. Give yourself options by applying for multiple opportunities. Once you have a few offers, create a pros-and-cons list to decide which is best for you.

When choosing an internship, it is also important to remember to be willing to keep an open mind. In my personal experience, I thought I wanted to work in research. When I applied for an internship, the organization said that the research positions were full, but they had a development position open that I might be a good fit for. I took a leap of faith and fell in love with that area of non-profit work. My willingness to take that opportunity completely changed my career path for the better.

Once you have your internship, congratulations! Here are some ways to make a good impression and get the most out of your internship experience:

  • Attend intern events. In Washington, DC, and often in all major cities, there are groups that host events to welcome interns or provide certain professional development trainings. Ask your employer if you might be able to attend as many of these types of events as you can. Especially if you moved to a new city for your internship, this is a great way to make friends and build connections that may take you to the next step in your career path. Don’t wait until the internship is over to network!
  • Regularly ask your supervisor and peers for feedback. In your first internship, you are likely doing work that you have never done before. It is important to ask for feedback so that you can do your best work possible. Not only will this impress your supervisor, but being able to request and receive constructive criticism is a great quality that will set you apart from the other interns you work with.
  • If appropriate, ask for more work. Sometimes internships can be light on the workload. This is often because the company or organization will rotate through many interns each term, and everyone has a different work style and pace. Asking your supervisor for more work (only if you can actually handle it and meet your deadlines) will show that you are ambitious and could likely lead to bigger opportunities for you.

At the end of your internship, take some time to write handwritten thank you notes to all the members of the organization who impacted your experience. Try to personalize them with stories and memorable moments from your time there. Creating this relationship and staying in touch with these supervisors will allow you to have strong recommendations in the future and maybe a job offer once you graduate.

Have more questions about internships? NeW is here to help! You can email [email protected] to get in contact with a staff member who would be happy to assist you.

This blog was written by Haley Supergan, NeW Campus Program Coordinator. Want more advice on how to succeed in your internship? NeW Members can sign up for a one-on-one meeting with a NeW staff member this week for Professional Development Week. Talk to Haley or one of our other team members about your internship goals.

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