Congrats on Your Summer Internship! Here's How to Keep It.
Weeee! I love summer at work partially because it’s officially internship season! My days recently have been filled with supporting internship tours and kick-off meetings. I’m also pretty sure that the real reason some of us enjoy this process is because we get to vicariously re-live our college experiences, lol!
It was only 2 summers ago when I initiated my 3rd (and what would be my very last) internship. It was right at NASA in the Space Systems branch, where I was able to extend my experience into a part-time position in Propulsion, and then a full-time job in Test Equipment.
It was completely bittersweet: a part of me was so excited to finish college and dive into the workforce. But then I slowly realized how much more easy-going and less-pressuring life was back then. So, I highly recommend embracing your journey right now as much as possible.
And if you were able to obtain an internship this summer, CONGRATS ♥. I personally know how exciting it is to be able to work on cool projects outside of the classroom and I’ve gathered a few tips on how to keep doing such!
Build a support system and networking tribe.
One way to stand is out by simply making yourself known. And not just to your peers, but also to your company’s Team Leads, Project Managers, and other Scientists/Engineers whose interaction will be of benefit to you. Let them get to know you and see just how passionate you are.
You’ll be able to find these people over networking meetings (we have things like Technical Program Reviews and Lunch & Learns), on-center tours, and just by mingling around the office.
Don’t be afraid to consistently initiate professional conversations in expanding your network, because these are the gurus that you will be able to refer back to in order to extend your position and/or obtain a future position.
There is power in remaining curious — ask lots of questions!
Of course you’re going to ask questions, none of us knows what we’re doing when we first start, lol! But in terms of jobs, figuring out your career path, etc. — I generally like to ask experienced professionals things like:
“What steps did you take in your career path to get where you are today?”
”What’s your favorite aspect of this job/company? Least favorite?”
”Could you tell me about the positions you experienced before this?”
”What steps can I personally take to accomplish xyz?”
Doing so will give you better insights on the success potential of where you are, how to climb the ladder, and a comparison on other demands out there!
Branch out and see the world, baby.
A great advantage of being an intern is that you’re more easily able to see what exists away from your desk. It’s important to prioritize your tasks, but to also not forget that you’re in the middle of an awesome learning opportunity and to maximize your experience.
So when you can, find other branches you may be interested in and get a grasp of their day-to-day. Find a good POC on the project and kindly ask them for a sit-down over coffee or lunch. If the position is at all hands on, try to get in on some of the action! Taking this step will also help you capitalize the first step.
Jesus take the bills, I got the wheels.
OK I’ll be frank, some of us want to work, others need to work, lol! I wanted to extend my position for 3 reasons:
I’ve always worked throughout my undergrad because, ahem, I need money.
I LOVED NASA and was so stoked to expand my resume and network on an array of projects.
I was graduating soon and knew staying would be a good transformation into a full-time position.
So to me, it made sense!
After getting your feet wet and becoming more familiarized with what’s out there, it’s time to to express your interests. I think mid-way through your internship (or a little after) is the best time to tell your mentor/Team Lead that you’ve really enjoyed your experiences thus far, and that you’re interested in staying on-board. Giving them a heads up will allow them to anticipate upcoming openings and budget availability.
For instance, my position at the time simply did not have the money for me to stay. Once I determined this, I started forwarding my resume to other Hiring Managers on the contract, expressed my interests in their projects, and asked if they needed additional support throughout the school year. I was able to obtain an interview for a different position and immediately transitioned part-time.
P.S., my Team Lead was super awesome and helped put in a good word for me. So being open about your wants/needs is key!
Show them you’re made of gold.
Lastly but most importantly, make a great impression! Whether the opportunities allow you to stay — proving your work ethics, professionalism, and competency is really the gateway to future opportunities. So give it your all and have fun with it!
“What’s the importance of extending an internship?” — when your foot is in the door, your opportunities for a future or full-time position upon graduation is much easier to grasp! This is because you’re continually building hands on experience while maintaining professional relationships.
“Tips on handling nervousness and/or fear of rejection?” — my motto is: the best that can happen is you get what you want, and the worst that can happen is you continue to learn how to get what you want. Rejection is just redirection, so risk getting rejected and failing in order to succeed! You’ll never truly recognize your capabilities until you try.
“How can I stand out among my peers?” — engage, initiate, express, and be willing! Trust me when I say a lot of people do the bare minimum. You’ve just gotta go the extra mile to prove that you’re passionate in the mission and dedicated to advancing your skills!
That’s it rock star. Was this post helpful? Do you have any additional questions? Let me know in the comments below or reach out @marynguy!