How to Kill It at Your Summer Internship

You did it! You made a resume, typed a cover letter without falling asleep, interviewed and got an internship!!! WOOO! But… now what? Your start date is inching closer, and that one summer you worked at American Eagle totally doesn’t make you feel prepared for a “real job.” I’m here to give you all the deets so you can kill your summer internship!

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1) Do your homework. Although school may be out for the summer, you have to be fully aware of what you’re walking into. Research the company, its history, recent projects, and your role. Obviously, every industry is different, but basic research will help you in any sector.

2) Look the part. Every industry has differing levels of appropriate attire, which you will observe during your first few weeks. I STRONGLY suggest wearing business professional for at least the first week or until you are told otherwise. If you’re in some fields, you’ll be wearing business professional the entire summer, but in others, you may be told “jeans are okay!”

I have linked below some STAPLES for a business wardrobe that you can wear not only this summer but in your kick-ass career to come. Just because you have to dress professionally doesn’t mean your outfits can’t be cute, either 🙂

3) Have a Mary Poppins bag. Get a tote bag large enough for your laptop, folders, notebooks, planner, umbrella, random hair ties, lunch, etc. It will be a lifesaver for you to have everything in one place! Here are some of my picks:

4) Say yes. If your boss needs something done, say yes. If your coworker needs help finishing a project, say yes. If there is an opportunity to sit in on a client meeting, say yes. If you have the chance to shadow an older associate, say yes. Stand out as an intern and get the most out of your experience.

5) Ask for feedback. It’s important to know how your boss feels your internship is going and to hear positive feedback as well as areas you can improve on. I’d suggest setting up monthly checkins, but most internship programs already do this! It’s super crucial to understand that NEGATIVE FEEDBACK SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN PERSONALLY. Use it as an experience to grow and get even better.

6) Admit when you’re wrong. We’re all human, we make mistakes. It is super unprofessional to throw someone else under the bus when YOU were the one who messed up. No excuses, no shoving the blame to someone else. Just admit you were wrong and focus on moving forward. You will gain a lot of respect for doing this!

7) LISTEN. You will learn so much just from listening to the day to day conversations around your office. You also will learn quite a lot by listening to what your supervisors say – make sure you follow their instructions!

8) Practice good time management. Time management is necessary not only for your career, but your entire life! Make sure you are making lists, planning ahead and sticking to deadlines. There’s no one to hold your hand or remind you that something is due like in college.

9) Get to know your other interns and coworkers. Networking is a huge part of the real world. The relationships you make this summer could end up landing you a full time job, making lifelong friends, or lead to other opportunities in the future. Be yourself, be kind, and be open!

10) Know when to ask for help. Asking for help is NOT a weakness, it’s a sign that you respect the work you are doing and want to learn. Do not hesitate to reach out to mentors, supervisors, or other contacts you are given within your company. It may be a bit scary, but it is worth it every time 🙂

Good luck this summer!!!



I'm Caitlin, a Chicago twenty-something turned blogger who shares outfits, inspo, good deals and so much more. welcome to my corner of the internet!

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  1. Danielle wrote:

    Loved this post and all the pieces you selected 🙂

    Posted 5.24.17 Reply
  2. This post is so helpful! I just started by first internship at an interior design studio and I am definitely going to use these tips!

    Posted 5.24.17 Reply
  3. I found getting to know coworkers to be the difference between getting hired and let go at my last internship. IAnything can be taught but if you can show you’ll work well with their established staff then you’re in.

    Posted 5.25.17 Reply
  4. Kendel wrote:

    This post is so, so helpful! I will be trying to ‘break in’ to the PR/media industry in a year or so, so any tip and trick is helpful! A lot of companies in NZ are obsessed with your hobbies lining up with their ideals, and you getting on with their existing employees. The ‘tell me about yourself’ question can be such a hard one to navigate! Also, that black, tan and white Kate Spade bag? Absolutely OBSESSED. I need it! It can double as a baby bag, right?

    Posted 5.29.17 Reply