7 answers

How do I make an impression at my future summer internship?

Asked Providence, Rhode Island

I’m a junior in college doing a software engineering internship in the upcoming summer. Someone advised me that I should make sure to get great references from this internship. What’s the best way to do that? Should I excel at work? Should I be more friendly? Is there some strategy or practice to impressing the people at your workplace that I should know? #internship #computer #computer-software #networking #business #computer-software #tech-industry

7 answers

Shafeeque’s Answer


Internship is a great opportunity to get a foot in the door and show-case and demonstrate your skills. For organizations interns are valuable, as they can see the behavioral skills in action on the job. A software engineer role requires both technical aptitude as well as team collaboration. Typically post your internship the hiring manager will sit down with the team you worked with and go over the following

1) Software development - Typically measured through your coding aptitude, how fast were you learning, how were you able to cope with complex concepts.

2) Communication - How effectively can you communicate your thoughts & ideas both in writing as well as verbal.

3) Collaboration - Did you demonstrate working well with others in the team? Did you show-case a successful partnership with others in the team. Did you express your opinions and listened effectively to others.

4) Culture Fit - Did you socialize and gel well with the team.

Shafeeque recommends the following next steps:

  • My advice would be to focus on learning the technology relevant to the team you are interning at. Understand the product space. Participate actively in team discussions. Demonstrate that you are passionate about the space the team is working on. Go for lunches with your team and develop bonding with other people around in the team. At regular intervals sit down with the hiring manager and look for their feedback & guidance.

Ekan’s Answer

Updated Portland, Oregon

It is great that you are thinking about how to make the best of the summer internship! Here are a few things that I would suggest:

  1. Take some time to learn about the employer - what they do, their values and the market they serve. It could be a restaurant or a manufacturing company or a retailer - getting to know them better will show them that you took initiative and your interest
  2. Now that you know something about your employer, think about what skills you have that could make a difference (for ex: you have excellent communication skills and work great with people - both restaurants and retailers will value this a lot)
  3. Reach out to your employer and ask them if there are things you can do ahead of time before your internship starts
  4. When the internship starts, make sure you get as much support you can from your mentor/coach. Ask for feedback on how you did and how you can do things better
  5. If you have new ideas that will help them, don't hold back. Again, this shows your passion for the work that you do

Good luck with your summer internship!

Simona’s Answer

Updated Washington, Washington

Hello Anina,

This is a great question and one that takes some consideration to answer.  I have had the opportunity to complete an internship in a position that eventually landed to a career that I have been active in for 14 years.  It can be scary and overwhelming to enter and not know the expectations.  The good news is that there will be a direction of expectation when you take the position and you should follow that.  I also advice several other areas to complete: be professional and friendly, be open to advice from staff and learn as much as you can.  That is general advice to get through the summer.  However, if you want to have a career in this area, then I recommend you plan a career plan or IDP (Individual Training Plan).  This is more detailed and requires you to make short, mid and long term goals.  It would be good to have a mentor (a respected and experienced employee) at the firm advise you and meet often to discuss and amend your plan.  This IDP will give you a focus during the internship, a chance to network and be taken seriously from the other interns at the agency and a way to develop your career plan over years.  I will add a link to the IDP document and a PowerPoint training that explains how to complete.  The document can be amended to your specific field and goals.  Hope this helps.

What is an IDP?

http://vaww.succession.va.gov/Employee_Development/TCF/Lunch Learn Sessions/Individual Development Plans (IDP)/TCF IDP PPP.pptx

IDP Directions

http://vaww.succession.va.gov/Employee_Development/TCF/Trainee Resources Depot/IDP_Instructions.doc


http://vaww.succession.va.gov/Employee_Development/TCF/Lunch Learn Sessions/Individual Development Plans (IDP)

Simona recommends the following next steps:

  • Look up IDP Plans and develop one for yourself
  • Seek out a mentor at the agency who will advice you on your plan and make changes as needed
  • Set goals and deadlines to complete actions
  • Learn as much as you can during the internship about your field and volunteer for opportunities while you can

Gary’s Answer

Updated Wilmington, North Carolina

Anina, congratulations on your internship. One of the biggest challenges working with interns is directing their work & ensuring they are doing meaningful work & getting relevant experience from it. That said, you can go a long way toward ensuring a good outcome that gives you the experience & references you’ve looking for. I suggest starting either a plan outlining what you’d like to accomplish during the internship and ask your supervisor what he or she wants you to accomplish for the organization. Try to find extra things that you can help with & avoid asking “what should I do now?” If your immediate supervisor doesn’t have enough to keep you busy, find someone else who you can help with a task or project. Network & make as many connections as possible (be sure to connect with them on LinkedIn too). Also, ask people how they selected & landed in or got into the position they’re in. Their journeys may be interesting & might give you some ideas on how to move your career forward. Good luck!

Chris’s Answer

Updated Portland, Oregon

Hello Anina,

I started my career as an intern. When I showed up, I was seated with four or five other interns. I noticed that they dressed more casually than the developers. They talked differently, more casually, like this was "just an internship for them", while the folks who had the jobs I wanted to have talked like this was their job. Of course they did!

I decided early on that I was going to (literally and figuratively) "dress for the job I wanted, not the job I had". I decided I would act like "one of the grown-ups" instead of "one of the kids". I acted like the internship was my real job. And at the end of the summer... it was. (None of the other interns were offered a job.)

So my advice: treat the internship seriously, like it's your full-time job, like it matters.

Hope that helps, and all the best in your internship!

Rana’s Answer

Hi Anina,

The fact that you are asking this question it means that you care about your success!

Please note that managers care about your potentials for growth and not necessarily your current skills. Make sure you are always eager to learn and grow. Don't be afraid or shy asking questions, your future mentor/manager is there to help you to learn and grow. You should ever think that asking questions is a reflection of your weakness but only represents your interest. I hope this helps. Good luck!



Joe’s Answer


Having the opportunity to be an intern is a positive first step towards your career. It allows you to both show what you can do as well as learn new things.

Many organizations that I've work for have had interns working on various projects. If you work hard - communicate well - and fit in with the rest of the team there's a good chance the company would be willing to make you an offer to become a full time employee once you finish you're degree. So listen - learn - be polite - and work hard.