How International Students in the U.S. Can Make the Most of Summer Internships

How International Students in the U.S. Can Make the Most of Summer Internships

After nine long months of hard work, the school year is over and it’s finally time to relax, right? Well, not necessarily. Most degrees have allocated a big chunk of credits to be filled by internship experiences. A lot of employers have also made it a requirement to have internship experience for you to be considered for a full-time job.

While your college education will teach you a lot, it won’t necessarily teach you how to behave, or what to expect in the workplace. However, the attitude with which you face your internship has the potential to kickstart your career, so it’s important to make the most of it. This article will explain some key ways you can get maximum personal and professional value from your summer internship.

Internship Benefits

Valuable Experience

Theoretical learning has the reputation for being everything that you need. But, it actually isn’t. Nothing will teach you more than practical experiences. There is only so much that you can learn from a textbook.

Practical experience will also help you decide your career path. Either you will fall in love with your job and know what you want to do, or you’ll dislike it and go on to discover what you actually enjoy doing.

A Boost for your Resume

Adding an internship to your resume can be an effective way to help you stand out from other candidates. It will show prospective employers that you have practical experience in the workplace, and are willing to take the initiative to increase your depth of knowledge.

A Taste of the Real World

Life as a student is different than that of a working professional. Less freedom and more responsibilities tend to be the biggest complaints from students. If you’ve done an internship, you already have firsthand experience of what it’s like to work in a professional setting.

How to Make the Most of Your Internship

Ask Questions

One of the biggest fears that interns have is being scorned in the workplace for not knowing the correct answer to a problem. However, you can avoid this by simply asking questions. Spend time understanding your job, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when necessary.

Talk With Other Interns

Networking is important in any field. Talking to your peers helps you gain more knowledge about the business and industry. Networking is also very helpful for future job prospects, and the best part is that you could gain another friend.

Involve Yourself in Work

Internships are excellent opportunities to get real life experience in your chosen field. Think of an internship as a career without the commitment. Opt to sit in on meetings even if you don’t have anything to contribute. At the very least, you will gain firsthand experience in the functions of this type of job. Being proactive will also give your superiors a good impression, which may help in securing a job after your internship ends.

Ask Superiors for Reviews

Many organizations may decline to provide an internship review or certificate. If this happens, ask senior employees for a personal review. These reviews will be useful to showcase in interviews, or applications for further education.

Don’t Worry About Being a Hindrance

Repeat this mantra before going into work every day: “I am not in the way.” If you’re lucky, you’ll have a mentor who enjoys having a shadow. If you’re not, shadow them anyway. Internships exist for two reasons: Practical learning, and to gain work experience. If your assigned mentor is not facilitating this, talk to human resources to see what can be done.

If No Tasks are Assigned, Ask for Some

There’s nothing more boring than sitting at your desk with nothing to do. Seek out something to do, at least to keep yourself occupied. In a professional environment, everybody is expected to know their tasks. Try to mimic this in your workflow. If you’re not able to, find a supervisor or senior employee to give you daily tasks.

Be Professional

Impressions last. Keep this in mind when interacting with coworkers. Behave like you would if you were on the payroll. Don’t use the office computer for anything other than work-related tasks, and refrain from frequent use of your phone and social media. There’s nothing more embarrassing than receiving a reprimand at your workplace because of inappropriate conduct.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Being on your phone is rude. It wastes both your and your employer’s time.
  • Doing outside work is unacceptable and may be penalized.
  • Communicate with employees in a similar language as you do with professors.
  • Build good relationships and contacts.

If it all works out, your mentors and supervisors will soon be your colleagues. It is a good idea to foster healthy relationships with them. Often, you will not be able to secure a job at your place of internship, but the contacts that you’ve built there can help you secure employment somewhere else.

Be Resourceful

If employers suspect that you will be tough to train, more often than not, they won’t even attempt to try. Prove to your employers that you will be a valuable resource that is worth their time. Do ample research on your focus subject. If a problem isn’t posed to you, pretend it is, and come up with answers anyway. A person like this is attractive to employers and they are more likely to be considered for a job.

Document Your Achievements

Got an article published? Document it. Secured successful conversions? Keep track of it. These details will be valuable when you’re trying to apply for further education or for a job. These achievements are essentially records of your skills, and it is your duty to advertise yourself the best you can.

Beyond all this, the best advice would be to enjoy your internship experience. Stay positive and the experience will continue to improve.

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