How to Make the Most of Your Internships

Nina Vaca Blog

At Pinnacle, we are very passionate about internships. We strive to make the intern experience truly valuable for the interns. Internships are often what sets recent college graduates apart from other job candidates as they seek to launch their new careers. They can be especially important for minority students who do not often have built-in connections that could help them find a job in their chosen field. In my experience, an internship is the best way to start forming essential networks that can benefit young professionals in many different ways and for many years.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, approximately 66% of interns receive a full-time offer and over 75% of those accept it. More importantly, after one year, over 66% of employees hired from an internship remain employed with the company. This is significantly higher than the 52% retention rate for interns from other companies. Even more striking, the one-year retention rate drops to only 46% for those with no internship experience.

From the company’s point of view, interns are beneficial because they create positive energy and excitement with their enthusiasm for the work and the opportunity. Interns are also a critical part of our talent strategy, as we create deep pipelines that can supply our company with exceptional candidates for years to come.

One of our current interns had this to say about the lessons he’s learned this year, “I learned to always bring positivity and enthusiasm to every thing you do, no matter how small. When you do this you make a good impression and can make an impact on others.”

Here are some tips for interns on how to make the most of the time you have at a company. Check back later this week for another piece with advice for companies.

Introduce Yourself to Everyone

Very often, the most valuable parts of your internships are the people you meet and the connections you make. In a few years, these may be the people you will be contacting for a job, professional reference, or career advice. Make sure that by the end of the your internship you have several people that you could contact as a reference, mentor, or even sponsor. Create a LinkedIn profile (if you don’t have one) and connect with those you work with so you can stay in touch no matter where you end up.

Be Professional and Present

This is important in everything from your clothes to your behavior to your punctuality, and much more. This is a real job! Don’t ever let on that you wish you were doing something else, like hanging out with your friends. Stay off your phone and social media while at work. Remember, you’re here to lay the foundation for your future career.

Ask Questions

Learn as much about different jobs at the company as you can. Sometimes the tasks you might be given as an intern are not fun or are not related to what you think your career will be — that’s OK. Make sure that you spend your time there learning everything you can, so ask people about their jobs. Ask them what they do on a daily basis or what they did to prepare for that career. Find out what they like and dislike about their jobs. Figure out what skills you need to learn to be the most valuable employee in the future. Ask about their major in college, what they studied, and what advice they would have if they could do college all over again. All of these questions can help you get closer to finding what you want to do with your future.

Work Hard and Be Positive

No matter what you’re working on, work hard and have a positive attitude. At a minimum, you will create a good impression which will benefit you this summer and for years to come.

I’m a big believer in leaving a positive impression on everyone I interact with. I can’t guarantee that that I’m always successful, but I work hard to make everyone feel good. People never forget the way you make them feel. Ten years later, both interns and employers will likely have forgotten whatever tasks they performed or assigned, but both will always remember how they were treated. So, whether you are a new intern, employer, or staff member, make sure you make the most of your company’s summer internship program!

Make sure to check out the next post in this series, about how companies can make the internship experience valuable for the interns and the companies themselves.