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Surviving The Summer Internship: The Do’s and Don’ts

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mich chapter.

If you’re one of those lucky collegiettes who landed an internship this summer, you’re bound to have a few questions, especially if this is your first time as an intern. Internships are an excellent activity to put on your resume, and although many of them are simply grunt work and coffee runs, you can still take advantage of the opportunity by paying close attention to your surroundings.  This will help you better understand the business and what it’s like to work professionally, no matter what industry you’re working in. We’ve compiled some do’s and don’ts for getting the most of your summer internship!

Do Ask Questions: Even if your internship consists mainly of busy work and errands, your colleagues and supervisors are bound to have years of experience. Be sure to ask them any and all questions you might have (from simple to complex topics) so that you can be confident in your job choice and get a better sense of what it is they do on a daily basis. Also, be sure to ask how they got involved in the work they do now, as they’ll probably have some useful insight and tips about how to execute a job search once you’re ready for the real world.


Do Make Contacts: Be sure to acquaint yourself with your business colleagues in addition to your fellow interns. While it’s not a good idea to walk around the office and introduce yourself to everyone, be sure to keep in contact with those people you have been introduced to. Internships are the perfect way to network and by leaving your colleagues with a positive and lasting impression of yourself, they can be confident that you will be a worthwhile hire in the future.


Do Make Sure to Get Credit: Many colleges offer credit for internships. No matter how few or how many, make sure to look into your university’s policy regarding internship credits. Not only are internships a great way to gain experience but having those few extra (and free!) credits under your belt is an excellent way to avoid spring semesters, five year plans, or from having to take an extra class in your last years at school. This gives you plenty of time to enjoy senior year!


Don’t Have a Bad Attitude: Even though you may not be doing the most exciting things during your internship, make the most of it and do it with a smile on your face. If your supervisor sees you complaining or looking grim while working, they probably won’t have the most positive impression of you, which may make them less likely to write you a positive recommendation letter or affect whether you’re offiered a full time position. Treat your interactions with full-time employees as mini interviews. Anything that wouldn’t be appropriate in an interview is not appropriate behavior towards your superiors.


Don’t Dress Inappropriately: Even though the company understands you’re a college student, it’s important to give off the most mature and professional impression that you can.  Dress in conservative attire such as tasteful dresses, blazers, and appropriate length skirts while leggings, long sweaters or tunics, and sky-high heels meant for nights at the bar are most definitely office don’ts.


            Most importantly, it’s still summertime, so be sure to have fun while making the most of your opportunity! 

Elizabeth is a Senior at The University of Michigan and the Managing Editor of HC UMich. She is majoring in Communications, Screen Arts and Cultures and minoring in Writing. When she's not writing for HC, she works for the Big Ten Network Student U.