As the fall semester and the month of September begin, so do many students begin fall internships. For those of you interning this fall, have you developed your goals for your internship yet? If not, it’s definitely time to get on that!
Setting goals is incredibly important when participating in an internship. Intentional learning goals are what set an internship experience apart from a just a regular ol’ job. It’s the whole point of having an internship – to learn, to grow as a future professional, and to have experiences that you can showcase to future employers.
As you go into an internship, there are likely certain experiences that you hope to have during the course of your time there. Maybe you want to experience client interactions as a sales intern. Maybe you want to experience real fieldwork as a biology intern. There are key things to do, see, and engage in as an intern in your particular field. Incorporate a couple of these field-specific experiences into your internship goals.
Internships provide the opportunity to develop important workplace skills, so at least one skills-based goal would be great to include. If you want to improve your communications skills, develop a goal that gets at this very specifically. For example, you might want to improve your writing skills as a PR intern, and you will work on it by writing press releases. You might seek to develop stronger group facilitation skills as a human services intern, and you will do so by working with a client group at your internship site. When it comes time to discuss your skills on a resume or in a future interview, you should have specific examples from your internship to give as proof that you actually possess those skills.
So what is the difference between experience goals and project goals? For me, it’s a difference between general work tasks or being part of a project and having a project all your own that you complete start to finish. For example, I have seen special events interns who are charged with coordinating a specific event. Basically, it’s their event, their project. Now, it’s not that you don’t have help with a bigger project. You should receive guidance from your supervisor or other connected co-workers. However, it’s your responsibility and something that you can call your own. Not all internships allow for projects, but if you have the opportunity for it, work with your supervisor to identify a project you can focus on throughout your internship.
Don’t forget that as you set your internship goals, you should determine the specific steps you will take to achieve them. Also, determine how you will will measure that achievement – How will you know if you’ve completed each goal? Finally, remember that you are not alone in setting goals for your internship. Have a conversation with your supervisor about the goals you have and work with him or her to decide 1) if those goals are attainable within the scope of the internship and, if they are, 2) what you can begin working on to move you towards those goals.
What is one of your goals for your fall internship?
If you aren’t in an internship this semester, what is one thing you hope to achieve in a future internship?
Photo by olle svensson