My Future

5 Steps To Help You Prepare For That Summer Internship

Make the ultimate impression.

Getting the internship position for the summer was only half the challenge. What you get out is what you put in, so it’s your responsibility to make your time at the organisation worthwhile and potentially open up opportunities for the future.

Don’t know where to start? It’s all in the preparation.

#1 Research Your Organisation

Knowledge is power! Gather as much information as you can from the organisation’s online presence (i.e. website, social media channels and news coverage) and speak to any contacts you already have. Walking in the door with an accurate expectation of the work you’ll be tasked with, the organisation’s mission and values and even things like dress code and workplace etiquette go a massive way towards helping you settle in.

It’s also incredibly useful to know the industry your organisation operates in. Read relevant trade publications (for example the Financial Review for finance interns) and become familiar with what’s trending, upcoming ideas, major players and rivals.

#2 Prepare The Paperwork

Official internships often come with a pile of paperwork and you can’t expect your educational institution to do it for you either. Find out who your point of call is and contact them to send you all the necessary forms. These often include one or more placement forms along with an OH&S form. Make sure they’re fully signed and ticked by everybody before you send them in. If you’re receiving credit for the internship, you might have to do some extra legwork so get in touch with your organising academic.

#3 Plan Your Commute

One of the most vital but overlooked aspects of an internship is actually getting there. The week before, use an online timetable or trip-planning app to figure out how you’ll get there each day. Turning up early is the easiest way to score brownie points with your potential employer with the least effort. Add at least 10-15 minutes to your journey time to prepare for traffic, transport delays or anything else that gets in the way. You’ll look way ahead of the other interns when you stride in early and get straight to work!

#4 Go In With Ideas

Organisations look very well upon interns who come in with fresh ideas. Look at their current work and prepare a few thoughts – for example, journalism interns should definitely come armed with story pitches suitable to their publication.

You might also be able to teach your specific skills (think image editing, social media or even Powerpoint) to interested colleagues. This doesn’t however mean offending your hosts. Rushing in and telling your experienced and older colleagues how to better run their organisation is a fast route to the exit. If you do have ideas for better practices think it through first, then you might consider suggesting it with discretion and modesty.

#5 Know How To Network

Love it or hate it, networking is useful in any industry. Attend a workshop at your university, ask somebody who’s well-connected for advice or just Google it.

You won’t regret it. The odd bit of subtle schmoozing works miracles in getting you invites, tips and opportunities in the future. If you’re shy, practice introducing yourself, because you’ll be doing a lot of it. Establishing good relationships is especially important. It not only gives you a support network when you’re struggling, but opens many new doors at the same time. Each new acquaintance is part of an intricate web of employees and employers, and the more you know, the more likely you are to find one who just happens to have a route into your dream workplace.

Olivia Stanley is a Journalism and International Studies student at UTS. She keenly consumes avocados as an act of generational economic rebellion and is passionate about wom*n.

(Lead image: The Devil Wears Prada/20th Century FOX)