How to Be a Great Intern

2011 Summer Intern Poster Session

As summer approaches, it’s almost time for internships to start. No matter what field you’re working in, it’s important to know that internships are the perfect opportunity to learn more about a job you may want someday. Internships offer insight into what you may (or may not) want to do for the rest of your life.

Your first internship is a substantial professional learning experience. Here are a few pointers to make sure you do the best possible job to prepare for an internship!

Make a good first impression.

That first day of work, come in ready to learn and meet lots (and lots) of new people. Don’t be shy or overwhelmed–show your gratitude to the person who hired you right off the bat. Be sure to stay positive and upbeat during your first day. In the professional world, first impressions are critical. Shake people’s hands, make small talk, and be ready to ask lots of questions about your new position. By showing interest, you’ll stand out as a professional worker.

Don’t be afraid.

If you’ve never worked in an office setting before, an internship can be daunting. However, the people who hired you to understand your strengths and will know to expect questions–that’s a part of their jobs. As an intern, you may not be sure if you’re doing something right. Be sure to talk to your supervisor immediately if you’re unsure about a problem or task. Most of the time, they’ll appreciate the fact that you’re asking a question and not continuing on a task in the wrong direction. During your first few weeks, take advantage of asking questions outside of projects, as well. See how your supervisor got to where he is now or sit in on a brainstorming session with your team. Your effort and dedication will be noticed.


As an intern, you are working for professional work experience. This means that you always must be professional. The best starting point? The beginning of the day. You may have supervisors or other interns who stroll into the office ten minutes late. Don’t do it! There will always be somebody watching to make sure you’re doing your best work.

Be a part of the team.

Lots of offices hang out outside the workplace. Many companies have soccer teams, yoga classes, or book clubs that meet after the day is done in the summer. If the people in your office share your interests, go for it and join forces! By seeing your bosses in a different setting, you’ll appreciate them more as people and co-workers. And of course, you’ll have a lot of fun along the way!

Good luck with summer internships as the school year ends!

Photo credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center