The Value of Internships
An internship is a wonderful way to “test drive” a career choice. Students are presented with an opportunity to use the skills obtained through education and to learn new ones. Internships can help determine if additional classes are needed while offering practical experience in your field of interest. It also can provide a competitive edge when applying for graduate studies or full-time positions once completing college.
Student Internship Benefits
- Gain skills in your chosen career field
- Apply skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to actual on-the-job experiences
- Enhance your resume and improve your opportunities for good jobs after graduation
- Discover the variety of career opportunities in your field
- Learn to interact professionally with peers
- Establish contacts and begin networking for future employment
- Develop references for future employment or graduate school application
- Have the opportunity to form decisions about job compatibility
- Develop a greater degree of confidence upon entering a job situation
- Begin at a higher level of responsibility in your first position
- Potentially begin your career at a higher salary
Tips for a Successful Internship
Be involved throughout the internship. Orient yourself to the company, policies and procedures. Be flexible, productive and show your commitment and desire to help and grow during the internship. Participate in meetings when asked to attend and be prepared to contribute. Take the initiative to introduce yourself and get to know your coworkers. Become familiar with office culture and your colleagues to maximize your experience and cultivate networking opportunities.
Properly utilize employer resources. Use of company equipment should be for work purposes only and proper care should be taken when using it. Be mindful of security procedures, be respectful to others, maintain proper language on email and always communicate in a professional manner.
Maintain records and document progress. One of the greatest benefits of an internship is gaining a variety of experiences; therefore, you will need to document activities that will be helpful in your education and adding experience to your resume. This information is also essential for providing feedback about your internship experiences to your manager or academic advisor and will assist you in completing an internship survey or exit interview with your employer.
Update your manager. Keep your manager informed of your goals and tasks. Meet weekly with your Manager to communicate progress on work activities; keep them informed of issues and conflicts. Ask for feedback on your performance at regular intervals. This might include what are you doing well and ways you can improve. Always be open to constructive criticism.
Behave professionally. Maximize the internship by being dedicated and responsible for your work. Work the appropriate amount of time assigned and meet expectations. Be prompt and punctual to work and to meetings. Keep personal business (checking personal emails, paying bills, shopping) to a minimum. Personal business should be done during lunch or on designated breaks.
Avoid office politics and gossip. Avoid gossip in the workplace. Try your best not to associate with those individuals who do. Becoming involved in these issues may potentially harm your internship experience or affect your career opportunities.
Engage in career development. Take advantage of on-site training, internet classes or webinars. Participate in outings, seminars, and work discussions to enhance skills. Make time for opportunities to meet other employees to learn more about other areas or divisions of the company.
Show appreciation. Be gracious and show your appreciation throughout your internship experience. This includes everyone from your supervisor to the receptionist. After the internship, send a thank you note for the internship opportunity, outlining some highlights of your experience and inform your manager that you would like to keep in touch or use them as a reference.
- Starting date, time, and directions to intern site
- Housing information if applicable
- Public transportation or parking information
- Main point of contact or manager’s name, phone number, and email
- Credentials or security badge for building entry and any other sign-in procedures
- Documentation to bring for completion of employer forms
- Review of job description, internship responsibilities, and supervisor expectations
- Review of company policies and procedures (hours of operation, dress code, phone, email, IT security, safety, confidential information, code of conduct)
Disability Disclosure Considerations
The decision to disclose a disability is a very personal one. Your disability is secondary to your talents, educational background, and experiences. If you decide to disclose, briefly describe your disability in terms of its implication for the position you are applying for and discuss how you will manage it while performing your job. If you disclose your disability during an interview, the interviewer might not ask any follow up questions, as this is a sensitive area in employment consideration. If your disability is visible, you can put the interviewer at ease by talking about your disability in a comfortable and matter-of-fact way. Framing your disability as an asset will help the employer or interviewer to view it the same way.
The decision to disclose is your choice. Students with disabilities often subtlety disclose by listing their involvement with disability organizations and volunteer work as mentors or tutors to other students with disabilities on their resume. These experiences often reflect leadership experience. For Further Guidance on Disclosure to Employers, please visit the Job Accommodation Network or view the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability’s 411 on Disability Disclosure.
If assistive technology or other accommodations are needed on the job, make certain to inform your employer as soon as possible after you have received and accepted an offer of internship or employment. Provide as much information as possible about the accommodation, including costs, where it may be obtained, and whether you will bring it to the workplace, if it is portable.
In the case of internships, time is limited, and you do not want to waste it waiting for an accommodation that could have been procured in advance. Disclosing any necessary accommodations, after you have received and accepted the offer, will make the transition into an internship or a job easier and more comfortable for you and the employer. This will allow more time to focus on contributing your skills and talents to an exciting new job.
If you or your employer are unsure about the type of accommodation needed or are interested in additional information, we encourage you to contact the Job Accommodation Network.