Starting your internship — Joyce’s Career Tip of the Week

Many Fulton Schools students are currently getting ready to begin their summer internships and research positions locally, across the country and even internationally. I would like to use this column to offer a few suggestions for success.

Be on time every day, especially the first day. Actually, be even better than that: get to work early! You want to be at your desk, ready to start working, the moment your shift begins. First impressions are so important (and can be lasting). You want to show that you are well organized and responsible. You might want to take a test drive to the location in advance. Be sure to allow enough time for rush hour traffic and finding a parking space.

It’s a good idea to stay later at the end of the day — especially if you need extra time to get your work done or learn something new. Being the first person out the door is not how you want to be known.

If you do not yet know, ask about the expected dress code. Some places are more formal than others. There may be casual Fridays. If in doubt, it is safer to be more professional rather than too casual.

Over the years, I’ve spoken to many students about their internship experiences. A common theme, that I hear over and over, is how much they have to learn during the first few weeks. Don’t panic! Your classes have taught you how to learn. You know how to do research (find information) and how to study. You can do this!

Make friends! Get to know your co-workers. Accept invitations to join others on breaks and at lunch. Invite others to join you. DO NOT spend these times staring at your computer or cell phone. Informal conversations are a great way to learn about the company. You can learn how your work relates to the work others are doing and who the different subject experts are. Make it a goal to know the people on your team and those in other areas with whom you interact.

Keep a daily journal. This will help you with your technical learning and keeping track of those you meet. When you get back on campus, and are preparing for the fall career fair (which will be taking place in September), these notes will be a great help for updating your résumé. You want to make sure that you will not forget any of your accomplishments.


Joyce Donahue is a Certified Career Counselor who works in the Fulton Schools of Engineering Career Center.