Frequently Asked Questions and Tips
How do I get the academic internship I want?
- Make an appointment with the Internship Specialist for guidance and information on internship opportunities, resume writing and interviewing techniques.
- Make an appointment with a supervising faculty member or department chair to pinpoint learning objectives and methods of evaluation for approval of internship.
- Complete all administrative forms, including: the “Internship Learning Contract” and the “Student Agreement and Release” available through the Internship Development Office.
- Pre-register for the course, which requires the signature of the faculty supervisor, academic advisor, department chair, site supervisor and internship specialist.
How do I make this internship a positive experience?
Take your cue from your co-workers and other staff members and dress so you “fit in”. On the first day, dress neatly, simply and appropriately for your job. Your supervisor can provide guidance if you have questions.
Promptness and Attendance
Get an early start the first few days to ensure you don’t underestimate the travel time. Being late the first day or any day is simply not acceptable. If an emergency or unforeseen circumstance comes up, be sure to call and advise your employer of the situation. If you need to take a day off, make arrangements in advance. Try to take advantage of any opportunities to attend staff meetings or seminars.
An important part of why you were selected for an internship is the employer’s perception of your attitude, since that is critical to the development of your skills and your level of productivity. Success in the workplace is tied directly to a positive “can-do” attitude, being a team player, cooperating with co-workers, and being enthusiastic and willing to work within the structure of the organization.
Establishing your credibility in the workplace doesn’t happen overnight but being trustworthy and dependable will help you earn the respect of your supervisor and co-workers. This in turn will lead to opportunities for more responsibility.
Interacting with Other Staff
Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek guidance but do be sensitive to others’ time and schedules when assistance is needed.
Even if your employer does not have a structured orientation process, you will still need to read materials, meet co-workers, move into your workspace, and verify with your employer the nature of your responsibilities. (If you are doing an academic internship be sure that both you and the employer are clear on the learning outcomes which have been developed.) Also be sure you have complete and accurate information regarding the regulations and policies of the workplace, then follow the rules at all times.
How do I get the internship done now that I have it?
Make the best use of any discretionary time by organizing your day according to your tasks and responsibilities (a day planner calendar is helpful). Avoid procrastinating on responsibilities you aren’t fond of, by setting specific times to do them and/or divide into smaller tasks. Be aware of how your energy level and moods fluctuate throughout the day and schedule accordingly. To ensure you meet deadlines, always build in some extra time to deal with unexpected delays or surprises.
Be sure you have a clear understanding of the priority of different tasks that relate to any project you are working on. Identify and inventory the resources that will be needed to accomplish these tasks. Coordinate with your supervisor to secure any assistance or materials that you may be lacking.
Work Assignments—“go fer” or routine work exists in all organizations and it is expected that interns will have their share of it. However, if the majority of your responsibilities are not challenging enough don’t hesitate to consult with your supervisor. Be cautious about asking for or assuming additional responsibilities unless you are certain that you have sufficient time to devote to these. Since the quality of your work is what you will be judged on, it is important to keep your supervisor informed of any unrealistic deadlines or other problems that impact your performance. While supervisors may appear to be omnipotent, they aren’t mind readers so remember that communication is essential.
I have an internship, how do I get credit for it?
In order to get credit for your internship, you must meet with one of the Internship Development staff members. They will walk you through some paperwork that will need to be completed, let you know what signatures you must obtain and give you some additional information to help you on your way. Please call Career Services at 512.863.1346 to schedule an appointment. The internship must also be added as a class through the Registrar’s Office and you will have to select a faculty supervisor to oversee your internship.
1. BE PUNCTUAL. We all run late sometimes, but if you cannot be relied upon to be in the office on a regular basis, your supervisor cannot assign you meaningful work.
2. CONSISTANT ATTENDANCE. Employers know that sometimes a big test warrants re-arranging your schedule, but absences without prior notice reflect poorly on your ability to accomplish your work.
3. MAINTAIN PROFESSIONAL WRITING HABITS. Communicate your professionalism by investing your time in properly formatted, easy to read documents and emails.
4. BE PROACTIVE. Don’t just wait for someone to come to you with work. Ask around the office to see if anyone needs help. Also, ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask if something is unclear or if you need further instructions.
5. DON’T GIVE UP TOO QUICKLY. Many interns will only look for something once before they give up and ask for help. Interns learn more by trying many different resources and figuring out the solution themselves.
6. LEAVE SCHOOLWORK AT SCHOOL. Many interns feel that it is appropriate to do school projects at work. Supervisors often take this as a sign that their intern cannot handle meaningful projects.
7. BE RESPONSIVE. Remember, every aspect of your behavior communicates your level of professionalism. Take the time to return every email and phone call to ensure you send the right message about your company or clients.
8. DRESS PROFESSIONALLY. While it may be appropriate to wear jeans and a t-shirt to class, it is not appropriate in an office. Dressing professionally is just as important as behaving professionally.
9. ASK FOR FEEDBACK. Be sure you ask what you can do better. Beyond your performance, ask your supervisor to look over your resume and cover letter to provide you with some feedback and ALWAYS be sure to get a letter of recommendation.
10. KEEP IN TOUCH. Professional contacts are one of the most valuable benefits of having an internship. Be sure to keep in touch with them long after so they’ll be sure to remember you when a prospective employer calls.