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Make the most of your internship experience

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intern 2.jpgAre you doing an internship this fall?  If so, you'll want to make the most of this valuable experience.

Here are three tips to help you on your way:

1. Set goals for yourself.

     A good internship provides the opportunity to develop your current skills or learn new   ones.  Wondering what to focus on?  You might consider the top 5 personal qualities/skills employers look for in new college graduates (NACE's Job Outlook 2012 Survey):

             - Ability to work in a team

             - Verbal communication skills

             - Ability to make decisions and problem solve

             - Ability to obtain and process information

             - Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work

2. Communicate!

     You are not expected to know everything so be sure to ask questions.  Do research, if needed, and take notes.  The more information you have about the employer's expectations the better.  You'll also learn about organizational culture, and the various functions that employees perform there.

If you're not busy, ask for assignments.  Are there projects you can work on that will demonstrate your use of the personal qualities/skills mentioned above?  Volunteer for them.

Ask for feedback from your internship supervisor. Some internship programs are structured to include regular check-ins.  If yours is not, ask your boss how you're doing.  Help her provide input that can help you do your best work and develop those desirable personal qualities and skills.

3. Build your network.

     Networking is about having conversations and building relationships over time.  You will meet a variety of people, in various roles and in different stages of their careers, at your internship.  Take this opportunity to make connections.  Talk to recent grads about their job search and ask for advice.  Speak with longer term employees about their careers.  If a particular job seems especially interesting to you, ask for an informational interview.   Unsure how to go about it?  Check out Optimize Your Networking on the Career Toolkit for complete information on how to do an informational interview.