When you begin your internship, you will not be given a detailed set of instructions as to what to do and how to succeed. In college, a syllabus is handed out on the first day of class and you know what topics will be covered, what assignments will be given, and how much they will be worth. Essentially, you are given a set of instructions as to how to succeed in that course.
This will not be the case during your internship. You will most likely be given a rough overview of the project you will be working on and each of the current team members’ roles for that project. Listen to those roles and identify where you can assist and fit into the team.
You will be assigned a manager, and probably a person below the manager who is in charge of guiding and watching you throughout the internship. It is important to meet with these two managers at the start of your internship and ask them what is expected of you. During this meeting, you should ask them what they believe your role should be in the project and how you can best succeed in doing that. Although they may give you vague response, you will need to take their response and formulate that into personal goals. Create your own syllabus. Create long term goals and then short term instructions/goals for you to follow in order to achieve those long term goals. The goals should be measurable. That means that you must be able to track your progress towards that goal. For example:
Long term goal: Be the “go-to” girl/guy
Some example short term goal to achieve include:
- Always do quality work. Have fellow interns or co-workers review important assignments before submitting it.
- Always ask for a time limit. “When do you need this by?” – submit it earlier than the given time frame.
- Never say no. Always say yes to more assignments and work if you can manage it so that you are known for being helpful and the “go-to” person.
You should make at least 1 long term goal for your internship, with at least 3 short term goals. Goals should relate to the contribution you make to the company and your own professional development. Your boss will most likely not comment on your work until the end of the internship. You will not be receiving a letter grade anymore. You may be the best intern the company has ever seen, but you will not find out until the end. The way to track your progress and ensure a positive end of the summer evaluation is by setting these long and short term, measurable goals.
Make sure to do self-evaluations at the end of each week to reflect on your progress towards those goals. Think back to your work week and what you accomplished. Write a progress report memo to your boss. Think about areas of improvement and how you have to do better next week. Set a mid-point meeting with your manager at the middle of your internship. Go over your self-evaluations and how you think you are doing and ask them about what they think of your current work and how you can improve. Your manager wants to see you take initiative and succeed. Set as many meetings with them as you can in order to track your progress.