5 must dos during an internship
For the Manager & the Intern
By Ashley Collins, AgCareers.com Education & Marketing Manager

Internships are a critical component of the job search process for students who are building their professional portfolio, that’s not news to any of us.  However, an internship that is not fully taken advantage of is a missed opportunity.  Not only can it be a missed opportunity for intern but also for the manager who is overseeing them.  The traditional intern season for 2013 is nearing, if not already at, the halfway point for most.  So as you enter the second phase of the internship here a list of 5 must do accomplishments for both the intern and the manager. 
For the Intern

  1. Share a meal with an employee other than your direct supervisor or other intern.  Even better break bread with someone you work with whom you do not interact with much at all.  Ask the person about their job, why they like their job, and how they got to where they are now.  Be a sponge. 
  2. Visit a tourist attraction.  This especially applies to students who are interning in a different state or region of their state.  Get out and adventure one weekend! 
  3. Pitch a new idea.  Do you have an idea for a project you can work on that wasn’t part of your original project list or solution to a problem you’ve encountered?  Develop a professional strategy to share this idea or project with your manager.  Initiative is a sought after employability skill in many new hires.  
  4. Ask questions.  Not just questions about job duties but find out what professional development activities your manager has valued most during their career, what do they do in their free time, what blogs do they read, professional newsletters they receive, organizations they are a member of, what professional books they’ve read.  Your mentor didn’t get where they are overnight and hopefully you’re working with someone in a role you’d like to be in one day.  Find out as much as you can about the path they’ve taken to help guide you in the future. 
  5. Stay in touch – be sure you have contact information for all the people you’ve connected with throughout the internship.  Send thank you notes to people who’ve taught you something new, been a positive influence, or helped you during the internship.  Communicate via email a few months after you’re back at school and find yourself applying something you learned in your internship to your education or vice versa.  This is part of the process of building your professional network. 

For the Manager

  1. Learn something from your intern.  A new app for your phone, a shortcut for using a computer program, or be introduced to a new music artist.  Young perspectives and minds bring a lot to the workplace, don’t get so hung up in teaching them that you forget to learn yourself! 
  2. Ask the intern if they are experiencing what they’ve sought out to experience.  Don’t wait until the final review to discover you aren’t meeting expectations. 
  3. Include, include, include.   Are you attending a meeting, training session, conference call or lunch meeting that your intern could tag along too?  Those are part of the everyday job and an internship is about experiencing what a full time opportunity with your company would be like. Provide the most realistic experience you can.  
  4. Be flexible.  Things are going to happen that weren’t part of the plan, hopefully your intern is reading this article and thinking a new project to pitch you or solution to a problem that maybe you didn’t know existed.  Be willing to seek and approve new opportunities for the intern. 
  5. Stay in touch – connect on professional social media networks, write recommendation letters and utilize the interns to help you find future interns.  Students are looking to build their network, so be willing to join that network! 

A few facts about internships:

  1. Students report that they hope to gain ‘practical, meaningful work experience’ and ‘insight into what they might do for a full time career’ from an internship. 
  2. 76% of interns receive a formal review at the end of their internship. 
  3. 68% of interns in receive academic credit for their summer internship. 
  4. At the conclusion of their internship in 2012, 43% of interns had been formally or informally offered a repeat internship or full time career with the company for the following year. 
  5. 1 out of every 3 interns is hired for a full time career with a company they’ve interned with. 
  6. Ag companies report that November is the most prevalent month for filling and completing offers for internships. 

Sources: 2012 and 2013 AgCareers.com Internship Benchmark Survey & 2012 AgCareers.com Intern & New Graduate Hire Report.

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