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Gen Z: Here’s how to get the most out of your summer internship

Natalia Bodova / Getty Images / istockphoto

With Gen Zers celebrating graduation season, many are thinking ahead about their summer internship. How can you get the most out of this internship and get out of the experience with the necessary skills that will ensure you get a full-time opportunity? Whether you work in the office, co-ed, or away for summer internships, follow these career-building tips to get the most out of your training and apply the experience to future jobs.

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be proactive

Diane Jaysky, Ph.D. And Professor of Strategic Communication at the Roy H. Park School of Communication at Ithaca College, he recommends that trainees use their internships to do more than just do more of their assignments.

Interns may also ask if they can sit in meetings, introduce themselves to employees they have met and request that their supervisor provide feedback (preferably in writing) at least every two weeks on their performance.

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Carefully review the company’s website

What does the past and future of the work in which you train look like? Gaske said interns should carefully read the company’s website, including its history. If you’re interning at a public company, interns may also read their annual reports, annual meeting agendas, keep track of the stock price, and research what analysts are saying about the company.

You can use this information to ask questions that could introduce you to other people or to highlight some of your knowledge and skills that may go beyond your current internship. Gayeski uses the example in which the intern might note that one of the company’s goals in its most recent annual report is to improve its environmental impacts. Trainees interested in this topic and hoping to take further courses in sustainability may ask if there is a team member they can have coffee with to learn more.

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If the trainee does not understand certain concepts, he may use his research on the website to receive training from experienced colleagues. A good example is a trainee who specializes in communications and hopes to take an accounting course before graduating because it is important that they understand the financial aspects of the business. If the intern reads the financial reports posted on the company’s website, they may ask if someone might be recommended to help them better understand how to read and interpret this type of data.

In addition to learning more about the business, Gaske said that reviewing the site also helps interns learn about employees.

Try to memorize the names and faces of top CEOs or distinguished employees. See if you can follow their social media posts. “If you come across them, you can say hi and introduce yourself—by mentioning something you know about them,” Gaske said.

Get involved in something that makes you priceless

Heather Valley, Account Manager for Caliber Corporate Advisers, also leads Caliber’s Summer Graduate Associate Program. Valley recommends that coaches use their coaching exercises to participate in something that makes them invaluable to the team.

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Consider the skills you have, such as audio broadcasting or video shooting, that no one else might be able to bring to the table. You could even involve yourself in an old task that was sitting in the corner and no one else wanted to do it. However, you have gone the extra mile to dust it off and make it your own. Now, the team can’t imagine working without him.


Once you are hired and settled into your internship, use this time to connect with your peers. In a virtual environment in particular, Valli said, it’s incredibly easy to schedule 15-minute coffee conversations into your calendar.

“Connect with colleagues, directors, and CEOs,” Valley said. “It allows you to learn from others and also makes a broader impression.”

Write down your main accomplishments at the end of the internship

As you near the end of your internship, whether you are applying for a job at that company, applying for a job at a different company or returning for another academic year, take some time to write down your major accomplishments.

When you apply for a new job, the internship won’t speak for itself, said Daniel Lorenzo, director of marketing for Let’s Eat, Grandma. Employers want to see tangible accomplishments on your resume that demonstrate what you’ve learned, not just your core duties as an intern.

The best way to maximize the power of your internship on your resume is to list accomplishments specific to the skill you used or challenge you overcame, the score for the company and a number where possible.

Lorenzo uses the example of an intern who might write “with the help of video editing for social media” in his resume.

Take a moment to remember the details of this achievement. This will allow you to write an even more impressive point like this: “Release 50+ pieces of collateral with Final Cut Pro to produce engaging videos that each garnered 300-400 shares on the company’s social media channels.”

When should you start writing down your achievements? Lorenzo recommends starting before the training period ends. This ensures that trainees continue to have access to the results and numbers they will need before their email is deactivated or access to their company’s Google Drive account is lost.

Ask for a recommendation

Before you leave your training or your internship is complete, Gayeski recommends meeting with your supervisor. Use this time not just to request a written recommendation or LinkedIn recommendation, but to solicit constructive feedback.

“Tell your supervisor your ultimate career goals and ask how you can best prepare yourself to achieve them. What courses should you take? What other types of experiences should you look for? What should you work on?” Jaysky said.

Asking these questions may allow interns to express their interest in working for the company and ask how they will pursue opportunities. If your supervisor indicates there are no opportunities on the horizon, Gaske said interns may ask if their supervisor has any colleagues at other companies they think you might be a good fit for.

See if you can keep any artifacts

Earlier, we mentioned an example of an intern sharing a point in their resume about editing engaging social media videos that they accomplished during their internship. If possible, ask if there are any artifacts – such as these videos – that you have created that the company will allow you to share in future job interviews or in your professional portfolio.

Gayeski recommends getting the company’s permission if there is any sensitive or confidential information in it and asking if these parts might be redacted if the rest of the material is useful in demonstrating your skills and experience.

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About the author

Heather Taylor is a senior financial writer for GOBankingRates. She is also the lead writer and enthusiast of brand mascots for PopIcon, Advertising Week’s blog dedicated to brand mascots. It has been published in HelloGiggles, Business Insider, The Story Exchange, Brit + Co, Thrive Global, and more media.

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