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Internship 101: The Dos and Don’ts

Internships can be awesome! They’re a great way to gain experience, see what it’s really like to work in a field that interests you, and to make tons of connections that can help you in the future. Use the tips below to discover what you should — and shouldn’t — do during your internship to make the most of it.


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DO: Bring a pen and paper with you everywhere

An internship is, most importantly, about learning. Most programs have special events for interns with speakers or discussions on topics relevant to their field. Oftentimes, your supervisor will also have check-in meetings with you where they assign you tasks or ask you about your current projects. It is important to always bring a pen and paper with you, as you will never know when you will need to remember something for later. Invest in a nice, small notebook to bring with you to your internship, and you can fill it with all that you learn over its course for later reference.

DON’T: Sit idly

The cliché exists for a reason – interns don’t always have the most glamorous work. Sometimes you will be assigned tasks that seem mundane or simple. Sometimes you might not even be assigned anything at all. This is your chance to show your supervisors that you are reliable, and doing a great job on small things will allow you to build a trusting relationship with them. Even if you have nothing assigned, be proactive and try to ask for more work, see if anyone around you could use a hand, or even read up on current news about the company or your field.

DO: Try to meet as many people as possible

Most places that hold internship programs have a large network of employees that would love to meet young people and discuss their jobs. Choose a couple of people in your office that seem the most interesting to you, and ask your supervisor if they can connect you. Have coffee, lunch, or even an email conversation, and you might make a lasting connection that will teach you a valuable lesson or help you later in your job search.

DON’T: Make a bad impression on your supervisor

Some say that each day of an internship is like a job interview. This can hold true – you probably won’t have more than a semester at your internship, and being dependable and responsible throughout its duration is critical. This means showing up on time, not leaving early, staying off of your phone and social media, dressing professionally, and responding to emails in a timely manner.

DO: Make friends with the other interns

Most internship programs have at least a couple of interns rather than just one. If you all ended up in the same place, odds are you have something in common! Take time to talk to these people over lunch breaks, during events, or even outside of work. It can be a good idea to make a group chat with part of the group so that you all can answer each other’s questions, share your experiences, and make closer connections. These people may end up being your good friends, and they will make your internship experience a lot more rewarding and enjoyable!

DON’T: Forget to thank your supervisors

Supervisors do a lot for their interns, as they make the whole experience possible. Show your gratitude each day through your actions, but also make sure to follow up more concretely before you leave. Schedule a final lunch, and bring a thank you card with you as a tangible representation of your thankfulness. They will appreciate it more than you know!

An internship is the perfect time for personal and professional growth. Done correctly, you can leave with friends, connections, knowledge, and even a job offer! Keep these dos and don’ts in mind, and you should be able to navigate the process seamlessly.


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Published by

Caleigh Propes

Caleigh is a junior at Yale University studying molecular biology. She is originally from Kentucky and enjoys all things related to health care policy, writing, traveling, and being outdoors.