How to Make the Most of Your Internship Experience

Before you Start: Set Goals

  • Reflect on your upcoming experience: why did you choose it, and what do you hope to gain?
  • Consider drafting a Learning Plan as a guide, which is described briefly in the video below, to help you evaluate your goals, create a plan, and track your progress with your supervisor.

Reflecting and Taking Notes

Whether your experience is days, months, or a year, check in with yourself periodically to see where you are in your goals.  It is important to remember that your goals may change throughout the experience.  Consider some of the following prompts (adapted from Mary A. King and H. Frederick Sweitzer, The Successful Internship):

  • How has your work changed since you first started?
  • What do you think is your main contribution to the site?
  • Has the experience to date been rewarding? Why or why not?
  • What new soft/hard skills have you learned since the beginning of the experience, and how might they help you?
  • Has the experience made you think about possible careers in this field? Another field?
  • What feedback did you receive today or this week and how did it make you feel?
  • What are some of the advantages/disadvantages of working in this field?
  • What have you learned about yourself so far?
  • Has your daily routine changed? How?

Record Your Newly Acquired Transferrable Skills

  • Consider recording key phrases you’ve learned on the job, the contact information of new people, and accomplishments you want to remember for future interviews or networking opportunities.
  • Identify the knowledge you are acquiring and how it may transfer to your future experiences.
  • Remember to update your resume and LinkedIn profile as you progress through the experience.
  • Check out the OCS Resume & Cover Letters samples and templates, as well as our Professional Online Identity page for tips on updating your LinkedIn.

Networking During Your Experience

  • Connecting with professionals and alums in your field of interest will further enhance your experience as it enables you to learn about different careers, organizations, and job opportunities.
  • It is not simply acquiring business cards – it is taking the time to get to know people and staying in touch throughout your career.
  • Additionally, you may uncover job opportunities that might not be posted or create an opportunity that did not previously exist. Read more about Networking and Informational Interviewing.
  • Remember to use Yale Cross Campus as a place to start connecting with Yale alums!

Approaching Issues

If you have questions or concerns during your experience, it is important to address them professionally and in a timely manner. Most often, issues that arise are easily settled by speaking with a supervisor and coordinating together on how to move forward. Students may also connect with the Office of Career Strategy about any issues of concern and an OCS advisor can help you craft the discussion with your supervisor.

Consider the following (adapted from Mary A. King and H. Frederick Sweitzer, The Successful Internship):

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What do I know about the problem so far?
  3. What is my goal?
  4. What are the alternatives for reaching that goal?
  5. What is my plan of action?

Connecting with the Office of Career Strategy

While you’re in the midst of your experience, remember that the Office of Career Strategy is open and ready to assist you.  If you’d like to speak with an advisor while you’re participating in a summer internship, job trek, research experience, etc., please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment.  Be sure to include your phone number in your appointment request if you are not on campus for the appointment (Yale Career Link appointments are in EST).

By Yale Office of Career Strategy
Yale Office of Career Strategy