Navigating through internships: A guide to before, during and after

You start hearing about the importance of having good ones for your resume your freshman year, but you are not really sure you are ready for one. Sophomore year you begin to consider the possibility of getting one, and by junior and senior year you are in a full-out panic over them. Of course, we are talking about internships. If you, like most college students, are not sure how to navigate the stressful world of internships look no further. Your internship guide is here.

What to do before an internship:

  • Get thinking. Sit down and ponder what type of internship you are interested in obtaining. What are your areas of interest? What do you want in a future career? Do you have a certain company in mind? Is location a factor? What time of year do you want to have an internship?

 “It’s never too early to be looking for internship opportunities and determining what might be of interest to you,” said Matt Arri, coordinator of CAFNR Career Services.

  • Do your homework. Take time to research what opportunities are available and what is required in an applicant. Check out websites, social media, and news stories about the company you are interested in to gain knowledge of the company.
  • Build a LinkedIn profile. “LinkedIn is a great tool for students to showcase themselves to potential employers,” Arri said. Use the site to connect and reach out to employees of the company with which you are interested in interning. LinkedIn also can be used to find internship opportunities.
  • Create a Resume. Make a resume that sums up your skills and experiences and is creatively designed. You should include notable honors you have received, extracurricular activities, and volunteer experience.
  • Apply, apply and apply. “Applying for internships is getting your name out there and your foot in the door,” Arri said. Applying not only gives you the opportunity to obtain internships, but also experience in filling out applications, which is essential for internships and jobs in the future.

What to do during an internship:

  • Be enthusiastic. “It’s important to stay motivated and excited during the duration of your internship,” said Neeti Butula, MU student and former intern at Proterra Advertising. Keep up the hard work throughout the internship from the first week to the last week. Putting in extra effort always reflects well on you to your boss and colleagues.
  • Ask questions. “Asking questions will help you learn more and will help to show your willingness to learn,” Butula said. Ask colleagues and peers about their company experiences, what their daily tasks entail, or simply for advice.
  • Be willing to share and connect with those working with and around you. You never know when those connections will benefit you in the future.
  • Be yourself. “Always be sincere and genuine, whether you are interviewing or already working as an intern,” Butula said. “People can tell when you are putting on a front.” Being yourself will help those you are working with get to know the real you, and allow you to see if you are a good fit with the company.
  • Set goals for yourself. The goals you make could be something like networking more at meetings or completing projects before a deadline.

“Setting personal goals during an internship is a great way to see how much growth and development you have experienced,” sid Butula said.

What to do after an internship:

  • Say thank you. “Thanking those that gave you the opportunity to intern is a necessity,” said Kaylee Padkins, MU student and former intern at MFA Incorporated. Thanking your employer shows you are appreciative for the opportunity and is a great way to give back to those who helped you through your internship. You say thank you through a note, gift card, gift basket, or in person.
  • Keep in touch. Sending your past employer updates on school or career skills helps you stay fresh in their minds and could be helpful for working together again in the future. You could also send a holiday card, graduation announcement, or an email asking how they are doing.
  • Reflect on your experience. Reflecting on your experience can help determine what you liked and disliked, measure what goals you accomplished, and if you want to continue making a career based off of what you did at your internship.

“It was really awesome to take a look back at all the things I had accomplished during my internship and how much I had grown,” Padkins said.

  • Ask for advice. Asking for tips to improve your skills and advice can give you a better insight on your career development. When your internship ends, ask your boss to evaluate you so you can see what you need to improve upon.
  • Update your resume and references. “Ask your employer if they will be a reference that can be contacted in the future,” Padkins said.Updating your references and resume will help you translate the experience you gained in ways that may help you obtain future internships or jobs. 
Olivia Hoelting

About the Author Olivia Hoelting

From a young age I can remember sitting with my dad at our family’s kitchen table looking over various agriculture magazines and newspapers. At the time, I was too young to understand most of the stories, but my dad would spend hours reading aloud to me. When I learned to read the stories myself, my dad helped me sound out some of the difficult terms myself. Little did I know, those small moments would be the first glance into my future career that I am now working towards. I am currently a junior studying science and agricultural journalism at the University of Missouri, Columbia. I have an emphasis in agricultural marketing. I am also working towards a double minor in agricultural economics and political science.