Win at Internships this Summer (in five steps)

It’s internship season! That glorious time of moving to a new city, finding a postage-stamp sized apartment and putting on one of your five business casual outfits and heading into a strange office for the first time (or maybe second if you interviewed there).

Summer of 2011, in front of my apartment in the East Village.

Summer of 2011, in front of my apartment in the East Village.

Internships are weird and wonderful. You’re there and then you’re gone! Sometimes this leads us to think.. It doesn’t matter what happens in those short 8-10 weeks of our lives. Who cares if you don’t get that blogpost written just perfectly or that data to add up to the savings your client was looking for…

Well, I hate to drop the hammer, but I’m going to encourage you to think again. Internships are definitely a variety of worklite, so enjoy it! But don’t throw away this opportunity to truly impress your boss, build your resume, and set yourself up for a killer career that is going to pay you what you deserve when you graduate.

To make things super simple, don’t freak out and go into overdrive on your internship.. Just make sure you hit at least these five MUST DO’s for Internship season. May you rise to the top and wear a smile while you do it (or don’t, if that’s your thing)!


  1. Prepare for your first day. Read as much as you can about the company, understand what their mission, vision and revenue (or fundraising) strategy is. Search the web or talk to insiders about the founder, the leadership and who you’ll be working with. The more you know about the company before you step foot inside the doors, the more confidence you’ll bring with you and savvy when your manager asks you to plan their biggest annual event *and you actually know what she/he’s talking about*.

  2. Be on time. No this isn’t class where you can roll in at five minutes past with your cafeteria cereal in a to-go cup. Figure out how you’re going to get to the office. Do a test run the day before if you’re in a new city or have to use public transportation you’re unfamiliar with. And if you’re driving budget at least an extra 20-30 minutes for traffic! You’ll be happy you did when you arrive cool and calm, not sweaty and frazzled.

  3. Be forward thinking. Ever been that intern who literally has NOTHING to do? Whiled your time away stalking your friends summer cruises on Instagram? Well, this summer that has got to stop. Your time is valuable and this is your chance to pave the way for a glorious future! Be proactive and look around the office/business to see where things could be improved. Make a suggestion to your manager about a project that would contribute to their success, and that you’d enjoy working on (major perk of assigning yourself work is you get to make sure you WANT to do it)!

  4. Make friends. Sure, you might think the other interns are there to compete with you. But no one likes someone they can’t hold a casual conversation with. And lo and behold they might be able to teach you a thing or two when you get in a bind on that big project and don’t want to show your boss you can’t figure things out on your own. Plus, friends are fun and you’re guaranteed after work social hours if you enjoy the people you’re interning with!

  5. Don’t brag about your Saturday night. Sure, your manager might be super chill, but no one wants to hear about how drunk you were on Saturday night. Unless you were having dinner with Kofi Annan.. Keep it to yourself and leave them guessing. The worst thing you can do is mar your reputation by being a braggart about your social life in earshot of someone who judges (rightly or wrongly) that this doesn’t qualify you for the job.

Alright, kid. Now go have fun! Let me know if you need any more help on your way up to world domination.



Julia StarrComment