Making the most of your Summer Internship
Some of you will be making good use of the time before your MSc by doing an internship. This is a great opportunity to learn more about your chosen sector or area of work, make new connections, create a positive impression on what might be a potential future employer and – in the best case scenario – obtain a full time work offer for after your MSc. Below are a few top tips on how to make the most of your internship:
Make a good impression
From day one, look the part. That does not only mean wearing the right outfit that fits the organisation and role, but also showing that you have done your homework before joining the company. Make sure you spent a good amount of time researching the department you’ll be placed in, the company, as well as the industry that company operates in. This will help you ask the right questions when you start, and enable you to make sense of the instructions and information shared with you. Think about why you are there and how you can introduce yourself to give a simple but effective flavour of who you are, for example: “I’m Sam the new intern in the X department; I’ve just finished my degree in Economics and am going to be going to Imperial College Business School in September to take an MSc Finance. I am really looking forward to the next 6 weeks with you…”
Look beyond your core team
It’s not just you and your manager. An internship is not just there for you to take on a role or project: it is also an opportunity to build a network, learn more about an industry and the roles available within it. Make it a point to proactively reach out to different people across the organisation – most people are very happy to spend a coffee break speaking to an interested intern and explaining what it is they do. Your manager can help you think of the right people to approach and speak to. Try to keep a record of key people you meet – they might be people you’d like to talk to again in your career search.
Be receptive to feedback
Make sure you understand how your work and contributions are perceived by the team – if feedback is not offered on an ongoing basis ask your manager how you’re doing. This is particularly important if you work at a company that awards graduate contracts mainly on the basis of previous internship performance.
Your internship is what you make it
What you get out of that internship is ultimately up to you. Your manager will have an idea of what work they need you to do, but often there is scope to volunteer yourself for additional work or for projects that are of particular interest to you. Be proactive, volunteer and discuss with your manager the type of work that will allow you to get the most out of your summer. At the same time don’t stay away from the mundane either – make sure to take on even the smallest of tasks with a positive attitude. Your contribution will be measured by how well you have helped your team, and sometimes the biggest help comes from a person happy to do a large amount of copying at the very last minute (but yes, we do encourage you to do more than photocopying!)
…and if you do not have an internship lined up for summer:
Depending on where you are in the world, you may or may not have time to get additional work experience over the summer. If you have no formal internship lined up, you can still do many different things that will enable you to get a head start for after your MSc. A couple of ideas: consider lining up informational interviews with alumni in fields of work that interest you; work on a community project that you care about; set up a blog that discusses an area of work that you are passionate about; join an organisation like Toastmasters to work on your presentation skills. If English is not your first language you may also want to think about activities that can help you enhance your language skills before joining Imperial. You could even speak to family, friends or relatives to see if you are able to do some voluntary work for their organisations – the skills you gain from even 3 week’s work experience might really add to your CV and impress a potential employer next year.
Getting additional support
Whatever you end up doing, Imperial College Business School’s Career and Professional Development Service is here to help. To speak to a Career Consultant, email Annuh Ngatai on firstname.lastname@example.org with your availability for an appointment and your contact details. You can also browse the Career Service’s website for service and industry information.