Life at Deloitte

How to succeed in your first internship 

July 9, 2018

Everyone gets a start somewhere, and an internship can be one way to launch a successful career. Your first internship is an exciting opportunity to learn more about the world of work, an industry, and your chosen area of study. We explore some top tips for helping to achieve success during your first internship. 

Learn as much as you can about the company and industry

Before you start, make sure to learn about the company. Try to identify people in your network who have worked at the company offering the internship, and reach out to them to see if they would be willing to share their experience or any tips on how to approach the time in your internship. This upfront research can help you to stand out.  

Define what success means to you 

We all have our definition of success, so before you begin your internship take some time to evaluate the goal, you are trying to achieve. For some, an internship is a great way to network and make professional connections. In this case, interns may take an active interest in attending networking events and socializing with their colleagues. Others would like to gain valuable work experience that can translate to a full-time job after graduation, so they may take an active interest in taking on additional work that might help them to hone their skills and develop the necessary work experience. Whatever your reasons for taking on an internship, make sure that they are clear and well defined. This can help you to map out a journey for success.  

Outline goals and expectations

Similar to identifying your personal goals, it is also essential to understand the goals of the organization where you will intern. Remember internships provide benefits to both you and the organization, so it’s important to understand the goals the business is trying to achieve. Speak with your supervisor to get a clear indication of your role. Make sure to have a precise definition of your position as an intern and what is expected.  

Be open to feedback 

Be open and willing to listen to feedback, both positive and negative. Feedback can help you to learn and grow both personally and professionally during your internship. Requesting feedback can also allow you to adapt more quickly to your new role as an intern and show others that you are committed to being successful, shares Sheila Heen, author of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. A subtle way to get your supervisor to open up and provide honest feedback is to ask, "what's one thing I could do differently?" The response can be used to improve your overall performance on the job.   

The importance of a good work ethic 

Stay committed and demonstrate a strong work ethic to forge ahead. Don't underestimate the importance of hard work and dedication. Pay attention to detail, be proactive in your work, and be willing to learn. 

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