GCS Student Engagement Coordinator Claire Davidson sits down to talk through a handful of ways students can make the most of the summer internships between their first and second years of the MPP program.
Claire Davidson: We trust that your summer internship experience will help you clarify your career goals and continue to develop your professional networks, so we have a list of ten items that will help you make the most of your summer internship experience.
Slide: Set goals in advance.
Claire: At the start of your internship, set up three or five objectives you would like to see yourself accomplish by the end of your internship experience. You’ll want to set up some smaller goals to see how you can get those accomplished throughout your time doing that work - you have to think what skills or what knowledge you want to develop by the time that you finish - and check in on those goals as you progress through your internship, so you can make sure that by the end of your summer, you’ve accomplished the things you set out to.
Slide: Schedule a preliminary meeting with your supervisor(s).
Claire: Meeting with your supervisor one of the first days you’re on the job is critical to getting started on the right foot. Even if your supervisor doesn’t initiate that meeting, it’s okay for you to reach out to get that conversation started. This will be a good time for you to share your expectations and hear their expectations of you related to the work that they anticipate you doing and how your relationship might look over the summer. Having this conversation early will reduce the chance that there might be miscommunications as the summer goes on.
Be proactive in making the most of your summer. Your professional development and your experience on your internship are ultimately your responsibility, and it’s your responsibility to advocate for yourself. If your projects aren’t up to your skill level, it’s important that you initiate a conversation with your supervisor and ask to see if there are other projects that might be more relevant to your skills or your interests. If you end up taking on additional projects, that could be a win-win for both you and the organization.
Slide: Network, network, network.
Claire: Some internships may have you rotate between departments or supervisors, but if yours doesn’t, don’t let that stop you from meeting people. You can still reach out to other staff members on the teams you might be working with, or those beyond your scope of work. You should feel free to attend social events and network throughout the organization. Talk with your supervisor about which individuals at the organization or related organizations might be smartest or most strategic for you to meet while you’re at your internship. Your summer internship experience can be an influential time for you to develop and cultivate more of your network, so it’s in your best interest to maintain a list of contacts, check LinkedIn to see what alums from the Ford School might be in your area, and continue to develop that list from the start to the end of your internship experience. These contacts may be key connections as you start your full-time job search.
Slide: Conduct informational interviews.
Claire: Take advantage of your proximity to other organizations of interest as you start to think about conducting informational interviews. Conducting these informational interviews in person gives you the opportunity to learn about other workplaces and make additional contacts of professionals in your areas of interest. Remember that Ford School alumni in your location of your internship are always a great resource. LinkedIn or Graduate Career Services can help you identify those folks in your area.
Slide: Update your resume.
Claire: Capitalize on the opportunity to get your employer’s perspective on your resume. This allows you to get a hiring manager’s perspective as you prepare for your full-time job search. Be sure to ask if you’re highlighting your summer experience in an effective way and in a way that showcases the skills and strengths that you’re utilizing and developing through the work in their organization.
Slide: Remember that past performance is the best predictor of future performance.
Claire: Keep in mind that for most employers, the most effective recruiting strategy is to hire the interns that have already demonstrated their skills on the job. The quality of your work in large and small tasks as well as your attitude in your approach to your work is being observed by your supervisors, your colleagues, and other folks in your organization. Whether you want to ultimately work for your intern employer for the long-term or not, the recommendation from your most recent employer is often a key component in most reference checks.
Slide: Explore the local area.
Claire: Get to know the area that you’re residing in for the summer. Could you see yourself living there after you graduate? There’s way more to work-life balance than just work. Be sure to enjoy the social and cultural events that your area has to offer.
Slide: Keep Graduate Career Services in the loop.
Claire: Call us and let us know how things are going. We look forward to receiving your phone calls and emails. If your internship doesn’t seem to be progressing in the way that you thought it would, be sure to let us know. We’re happy to coach you on how to negotiate and navigate any of the issues you might encounter on your internship. Feel free to send us a quick email of organizations that you’ve encountered that you’d want to see the Ford School develop a recruiting relationship with. Summer is a great time for Graduate Career Services to work on establishing those additional recruiting connections.
And last but not least, remember to have a great summer!