Score a Goal with Your Fall Internship


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.

Experience Goals

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.

Skills 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.

Project Goals

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

Last-Minute Internship Search: Create Your Own

Triple Letter Score (227/365)

Before introducing the most proactive of strategies in an internship search, let’s recap the approaches leading up to it:

A strategy that has been gaining in popularity over the last few years is that of creating your own internship. While I’m covering it in terms of a last-minute search, it is a strategy that can be employed at any point in the internship search. And in the case of some career fields, it could be seen as a must-do.

So how do you go about this very direct approach? Here are some tips:

  • Determine your goals. If you are considering creating your own internship, you need to have a firm idea of what kind of work opportunity you want. What field are you trying to gain experience in? What do you hope to gain/learn from an internship? What kinds of daily duties would you like to be involved with? Think through these questions before going any farther in the process.
  • Research. Here is another element of any internship that keeps popping up. Researching your desired career field and potential employer is critical as you try to develop your own position. Know as much as you can about the field you are hoping to work in: nature of the work, training/educational requirements, typical work duties. As you move forward to identify organization that could offer you this work, learn as much as possible about them. What does the organization do? What is the organization’s reputation? What are the current needs of the organization?
  • Develop your internship proposal.Be prepared before you approach an organization you’ve found and researched. As you develop a proposal to put forward, focus on what you can offer the employer. Clearly, you will gain from an internship. But if an employer is going to take a risk and make an investment, at random, in you, focus on the benefits of this potential arrangement to them. Include the following in your written proposal:
    • A clear, concise description of what it is you are offering to do and why you think it will benefit the company.
    • The specific project you want to work on or the position you wish to fill.
    • Highlights of how you are the right person to do this work for the organization.
    • Your dates of availability and whether you are looking for a full-time or part-time position.
    • A copy of your resume that illustrates your strengths and the skills you possess that the organization needs.
  • Make contact and deliver your proposal. The key at this stage is to contact the person who has the power to say yes to your proposal and bring you on for the proposed project or position. While human resources might be a good place to start asking questions, they often don’t have the power to hire you. Get referrals to managers/supervisors in the area you want to work in or consult information online to identify the “right” person. Send your proposal to the best contact person via email or snail mail, then follow up by phone about a week after. Schedule a time to discuss your proposal in person or on the phone.

If creating your own internship is something you wish to pursue, do so with careful planning, resourcefulness, and a measure of assertion. For students who have been successful in the internship proposal process, they have gone on to have incredibly valuable experiences.

Photo by derrickcollins

Internship Link Roundup for the Week of October 25

Internship Link Roundup for the Week of October 18

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Seeing the Big Picture

It’s crazy to think that the end of summer is already here. It has flown by in a mess of meetings, projects and memories. I’ve had a great time at Pentair, and thankfully it’s not ending. I’ve been offered a great opportunity to stay with my internship through the fall semester.

As I look back on my summer, I realize I’ve learned many lessons throughout my three months with Pentair. I’ve learned some basics: that asking questions is the best training method, making mistakes is a part of the learning process, but most importantly, that no matter how ridiculously hectic and busy it gets, you need to take a moment to step back and see the big picture in order to take full advantage of your internship.

It’s easy once you get into the swing of things to let your duties and tasks consume you. You become so task-oriented that you can lose site of your goals and overall personal strategy. I know because it happened to me. I was focused on just doing things without thinking of the end objective. There are a couple of little things that I did which can help make sure you keep the focus on your goals.

I’ve been having weekly meetings with my internship mentor, Silvia Madrigal. We talk about how I’m keeping up with my projects, but we also talk about what I’m getting out of my internship and any other opportunities around that may help me get the most out of my stay. It’s a great chance to make sure that my work is benefiting the company, but also that the company is benefiting me. Even if your internship doesn’t have a designated mentor, you should find someone who is willing to take that extra time with you to focus on the goals each week.

We also had an opportunity to do some community service. We worked at Estabrook Park to help clear invasive plant species and pick up trash along the Milwaukee River. This was a great way for all of the interns to get together, do some good, and get out of our cubes. It helps us remember that there’s a bigger picture around us. There’s more than our cube, more than our department, and even more than our company. Keeping that in mind can help you balance yourself, see the big picture and impact of the work you’re doing both inside the office and out. It doesn’t hurt that you can have a lot of fun with a great group of people too 🙂 .

Pentair Interns 2010

Learning opportunities are bountiful in any internship as long as you take a chance to see the big picture. I’ve learned a great deal in my short time with Pentair, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to keep learning and growing with them this fall. I hope that everybody with an internship can be as lucky as I have been and can take away as much as I have. Real world experience is only one benefit of an internship. There’s so much you can do to reach other goals in personal development as well. So stay focused, have fun, and learn a lot.

Read Krista’s Entire Journey

  1. Meet Krista Wolfe
  2. Leap and the Net Will Appear

Other Summer Intern Confessions

Ellen Hatfield

Jon McGuff

Allison Lindsey