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Getting the Most from your Summer Internship Experience

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In today's ultra competitive job market having a summer internship is no longer optional, it's essential. In fact, if you don't complete an internship while at school, potential employers probably won't give your resume a second look. But apparently this is something college students already know. According to a recent report, nearly 9 out of 10 college grads completed an internship while at school, some graduates even completed two.

Still, most students apply for and take part in internships because they believe it is perfunctory, they believe it is something they must do. And for this reason, they do not get the most out of this unique experience. In this article we will discuss a few of the things every student should know to take full advantage of his summer internship.

Select a Company you Like

Because they are desperate to get a head start, many students simply take the first internship that comes down the pike. But an internship is more than just something to put on a resume, and if you are accepted at a company you are truly interested in, there is a good chance it will be a real learning experience.

Get to Know your Supervisor

No, you don't have to be best buddies. But your supervisor can provide you with a wealth of information. He knows the business and he knows how to teach new employees who are just starting out. Pay close attention to what he says during progress reports. It might even be a good idea to keep a journal and list the things he says you should improve upon.

Have a Positive Attitude
This doesn't mean you have to be phony, or that you need to act like you are enjoying some tedious task. But it does mean that you should not complain when you are asked to perform these functions. More often than not, interns are asked to do a lot of the grunt work: getting coffee, taking lunch orders, shredding paper, etc. But that doesn't mean that people don't notice when you take pride in your work, especially when it's tedious.
  1. Don't be late

    And don't make excuses when and if you are late. Just apologize and take an earlier train.

  2. Learn About the Company

    If you are fortunate enough to get an internship with a company that truly interests you, this shouldn't be a problem. Remember, many current employees were former interns, so what began as simple summer work could be just the opportunity you need to get your foot in the door. Take full advantage of this. Ask questions. Learn everything you can about how the company operates and what employees believe needs to be improved.

  3. Find a Mentor

    This is not nearly as difficult as it sounds. In every organization there are individuals who truly enjoy showing the new guy, the ropes. This could be your supervisor, but it certainly doesn't have to be. Again, ask questions. This is an easy way to gauge if an employee is interested in teaching you something.
Explain your Internship on your Resume

What potential employers like to see more than anything else is, that you learned something during your summer internship. This lets them know that you worked hard, but also that you were interested in the work and in the business. It is also a good idea to include something about the work you did. Perhaps you helped an employee prepare a major project, even if it was just collating files—it's always a good idea to include that on your resume.
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