The Harbinger Group

10 Tips to Crush Your Summer Internship

We sat down with a handful of our accomplished THG team members to discuss the key aspects of working in communications, a constantly advancing industry. We came prepared to learn about each of our uniquely wonderful team members and their roles in the company, but ended up leaving with so much more: valuable advice that we will confidently carry throughout our professional careers– wherever that may take us. Here are 10 must-have tips to guide any intern to make the most out of their summer job experience. 

1. Keep a diary of what you’re doing.

To make the most of your internship experience, it is crucial to keep a journal of your tasks. Document convincing and compelling explanations of the work that you are accomplishing. This will help you remember what you did during your internship and more importantly, what you learned from the experience along the way.

2. Write up a summary. What did I do here? What did I learn?

The very first piece of advice we received on our first day on the job was to document everything. From opening an email, to writing down the name of a mutual LinkedIn follower– everything matters. It’s the little things that will set you apart from other applicants on your resume, portfolio, and in an interview. 

3. What do you want to get out of this internship? Backtrack, and work from there. 

Figure out what areas you want to hone in on during your internship. You will be given many different tasks throughout the course of the summer, but think about the things you truly want to become an expert in and figure out what steps you need to take to get that done. While you focus on these tasks, pay attention to what you can learn more about and how this could contribute to the bigger picture. 

4. When you’re invited to a meeting, know your role.

It can be daunting to attend a meeting with experienced professionals in the field you are aspiring to work in. However, remember, you are in that meeting for a reason. You have been carefully selected because you are a good fit for your role– feel empowered to not only take a seat at the table, but to contribute. The unexpected voices are ones that speak for themselves.  

5. Gravitate towards things that make you uncomfortable.

Get out of your comfort zone! The best learning experiences come out of situations of failure or uncertainty. As an intern, you will most likely be completing tasks that you have never done outside of the classroom, so it’s normal to feel uncomfortable or nervous. Just remember that once you conquer those tasks, you will feel especially confident and proud that you accomplished something that seemed so scary at first. 

6. Try to learn things before saying “no” to doing a task– don’t undersell yourself.

We live in a world fortunate enough to have Google, people! The best way to make a name for yourself within your company is to have that ambition to figure it out. Give yourself a chance to learn how to do it– watch a YouTube tutorial, read a news article, do your research before throwing in the towel. 

7. Ask questions. 

As an intern, it is easy to become overwhelmed and to feel underprepared. Although it is important to use your own resources, no question is a stupid question– if you don’t know something, someone else surely will. To combat this, ask questions and listen intently. If you’re not asking questions, you’re not paying attention

8. Make yourself available and be hungry to learn. 

The intern life may seem like a time of never-ending piles of work; if you are a glass half empty type of person, this experience may feel like a bunch of pointless tasks to you. Try to look at this experience as more than just clocking in and out everyday. Be eager and look at this opportunity for what it is: a time of endless moments to learn and grow. 

9. Understand what you’re reading. 

Now is the time to improve your note taking skills. Have you ever heard the saying “If you didn’t take notes, you didn’t read it”? Well unfortunately, this age-old saying is true. It’s time to get out those color-coded sticky notes, pens, highlighters and critical thinking skills because in order to begin any assignment, you first need to understand the instructions.

10. Take note of people you work with along the way.

In the end, it all comes back to networking. Guest speakers, company followers, clientele– each person you meet may not seem valuable to you in that single moment in time but they will certainly be valuable to you in some way in the future. Take the time to make those introductions, maintain those relationships and stay in the loop with what your colleagues are doing in order to grow and establish your working web.  

This is your summer to absorb the knowledge around you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes- the people around you were in your same seat at one point in their lives. Ask the little questions, take on the small tasks, and find a way to be a big presence among your colleagues- you are here for a reason and you are valued. Good luck out there! And don’t forget to have fun along the way.