Top 5 Tips for Beginning a New Internship

tina unsw

Hopefully the first thing you think about when starting your new internship is your excitement! You may be feeling a bit anxious as well, but the most important thing to focus on is the excitement of a new opportunity.

Based on my personal experiences, and from coordinating the Center for Career Development’s internship courses, here are my top 5 tips for beginning a new internship:

Dress for Success

My mom and dad always told me I should dress extremely professionally during my internships because you never know who you will meet, you are always “on” and interviewing for a full-time position, and because you should dress for the position you want. I will clarify that each field and industry has their own standard for professional dress, so it is important to ask questions and research this standard prior to beginning your internship – preferably even prior to your interview.

  • Smile!

My senior year of high school I won a “Coach’s Award” for my positive attitude on my volleyball team. I have found through the years that a huge part of my success has been a direct result of my attitude. I recommend that you smile at those you walk past in the hallway, be positive with your supervisors and coworkers, and maintain this attitude through projects. Believe me, it will be noticed and appreciated.

  • Set Goals and Learning Outcomes

Make it a priority to identify goals for your internship with your supervisor. From my experience with the Center for Career Development’s internship courses (UNIV 1991 and UNIV 1981), it is extremely important to establish expectations, goals, and learning outcomes from the start. Your learning outcomes should include transferable skill, personal development, and career development objectives. Visit us at the Center for Career Development (Wilbur Cross, Room 202) for questions on our courses or having this important conversation with your supervisor.

  • Establish Norms with Supervisor

In addition to the items discussed in #3 above, it is important to establish workplace norms with your supervisor from day 1. These norms can include working hours, dress code, preferred communication, inclement weather procedures, and workflow processes. Learning this information at the beginning of your internship is important so you know what your supervisor expects and you don’t start off on the wrong foot.

  • Ask Questions!

Be sure to ask thoughtful, intentional questions throughout your internship to show you are ready to learn and have an inquisitive mind. Plus, most supervisors would rather you ask questions to complete the task correctly rather than having to return it to you for corrections.

If you ever have any questions come for a walk-in appointment from 12-4pm Monday through Friday in Wilbur Cross, Room 202. Good luck!

Photo Credit: Virginia Cabrera (UConn HESA Program) – This is me at my 2015 summer internship at the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia.

By Christina Harney
Christina Harney Graduate Assistant Christina Harney