Georgia Tech

10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship

May 16, 2013 | Atlanta, GA

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Patrick Antony
Professional Practice

This June, the release of “The Internship” movie will showcase the experiences of two unlikely individuals participating in Google’s competitive and coveted intern program. As many college students begin their summer internships, the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Division of Professional Practice and students who previously served as Google interns share the following advice on maximizing an internship experience.

  • Have realistic expectations – “Hands-on” experience may not always mean the most glamorous job duties. While menial tasks may come with the territory, keep in mind that the trade-off is exposure to a professional work environment in your field.
  • Establish goals – Define the company’s expectations as well as what you want to learn from the experience. Have a concrete plan for the project you are going to work on during the summer and frequently discuss progress with your mentor to make sure that you are on the right track, recommends Deepal Jayasinghe, a computer science major who interned at Google last spring.
  • Ask questions – No question is “too dumb,” according to former Google intern Daniel Castro. “From day one of any internship, you will be overwhelmed with a vast amount of questions about what to do, how things work and how the coffee machine spits out energy.” He recommends getting the silly questions out of the way so that you can focus on your project or other internship duties.
  • Work hard – Participating in an internship presents the opportunity to learn and grow. Take advantage of opportunities to work on additional projects. You may discover that you enjoy other types of work that you previously never considered and you may be offered the opportunity for a repeat performance.
  • Request feedback – While not all companies conduct performance reviews for interns, it is important to know what you are doing well and how you can improve.
  • Network – Cultivate relationships by interacting with your mentor, fellow interns and others in the company. Hannah Pileggi, a 2012 Google intern, advises interns to make the most of the entire experience – both in the office and outside of it. “The networking and personal growth opportunities are almost as important as the things that happen in conference rooms and at your desk,” she said.
  • Share ideas – If you have an idea that might improve a process or tackle a challenge, share it with your supervisor to show that you are strategic and invested in the company.
  • Enjoy perks – If you are permitted access to the company gym or have a chance to join a company softball team, use this as an opportunity to meet others beyond the unit where you are working.
  • Be appreciative – Make sure that you thank your supervisor and other appropriate individuals for the experience and opportunities.
  • Maintain contacts – The contacts you make during an internship can offer guidance and provide important references as you move forward in your career.

Each year, more than 3,000 students participate in internship, cooperative education and work abroad programs, according to Patrick Antony, Georgia Tech’s executive director of the Division of Professional Practice (DOPP).

“Combining classroom learning, performing inquisitive research and applying this knowledge in a real-world environment is the best way for students to prepare for successful careers,” said Antony. “Georgia Tech students are in high demand, and these opportunities are a winning proposition for both our students and corporate partners and employers alike.”

If you would like to explore internship opportunities at Georgia Tech, check out the frequently asked questions on the Division of Professional Practice website. You may also want to check out the work experience options available through the co-op program.                                                  

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