How to Make the Most of Your Summer Internship

This post is presented by our ScaleUp platinum sponsor Chevron. ScaleUp is a program that provides free AIChE membership to U.S. and Canadian students through generous donations from ScaleUp sponsors.

Okay, you've accepted a summer internship with Company X - what's next? As you head to your new intern position this coming summer, here are a few tips to help make the most of your summer job.

Be Professional

Regardless of whether your internship is in an office, the field, a lab or other work setting, you will be working in a place of business. So be professional, serious and responsible in all of your interactions. Take notes, document action items and agreements, and follow through on expectations. Be on time to work and meetings. Dress professionally and appropriately for your work setting.

Ask Questions

Be curious, seek out answers to your questions, and learn from others. If you don't know something, ask someone. The ability to seek help when needed - or to ask questions to expand your knowledge - demonstrates that you know how to use your resources and that you value the resources around you.

Be Proactive

Keep up with your work scope and keep your supervisor and other necessary coworkers/customers up to speed with your efforts. Don't wait for the boss to ask about your results - take the initiative to keep her informed and share any new ideas. Look for opportunities to expand your work scope or take on new responsibilities to broaden your horizons.

Network, Network, Network!

Use your social skills to network with a variety of people to learn more about the company and positions. Ask about different career paths of employees that have your same engineering major or skillset to see what a few career options look like. Seek out a mentor that can help guide you during your internship as well as potentially be a resource after you return to school.

Be a Team Player

An internship is a time for you to shine - to show the company what you can do - but it's also a time to shine some light on your teamwork skills. Demonstrate that you can manage your individual responsibilities as well as contribute to achieving team responsibilities. Benefit from the knowledge and experience of your coworkers - and share yours as well.

Interview the Company

Your internship is a time to really understand the values and culture of the company. Ask questions and observe people. Keep your eyes open to how the employees act and what they say as they perform their daily work. When you graduate, you will want to work for a company you can trust and believe in - and where you'll feel comfortable as an employee - so gather this perspective of the company while you're an intern.

Summer internships are great opportunities to help you decide what path you want to follow when you graduate. However, they are short in length so hopefully these tips will help you make the most of your summer internship!

This post was contributed by Cynthia Murphy of Chevron, the 2011-2012 platinum sponsor of AIChE's ScaleUp program, which provides free membership to U.S. and Canadian students.