I’m eight weeks into my summer internship here at Kuder. How time flies! If you’re like me, you also did the math and are shocked by the fact that most of your waking hours are spent at your internship and another good chunk of time is spent in preparation for it. This leaves little time in the day for any extracurricular activities. However, with adequate time management (and weekends!) you can make the most of your downtime and make what’s left of this summer memorable. So here are my 5 tips on how to make your summer internship an enjoyable and well-rounded experience.
Now that you’re an intern ...
1. Travel and explore.
Living in the Des Moines area this summer, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the city and indulge in its charms. From attending an outdoor concert at the Iowa State Capitol to seeing the amazing talent displayed at the annual arts festival or simply sightseeing downtown, there’s a lot to take in and enjoy.
You too can plan a getaway with friends and family to explore somewhere fun. It could be a place you’ve been before, like a family vacation house or a completely new place. Either way, make sure to add an element of surprise and adventure to the trip. Doing this would not only make for good updates on your social media feeds but also make the summer days count.
Also, consider reading a good book or two. This is one of the best and cheapest ways to escape into vast worlds, cultures and schools of thought that are educational and insightful. Oh, the things you’ll learn! My most recent personal favorite is, The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna. And if you’re interested in self-help books, check out Jen Sincero’s, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.
2. Network, network, network.
Being a summer intern (particularly in another town or state) presents many networking opportunities. The most convenient place to start is with staff at your internship. At mine, for example, I’ve had a splendid time doing impromptu job shadows and visits with the associates. I’ve also learned a thing or two about the crucial roles others play, my outlook on career development, and so much more. Other networking opportunities I’ve had are meeting young, vibrant youth at church and in and around the Des Moines area.
Wherever you’re presented with the opportunity to meet people, be sure to put your best foot forward and network. Learn to make more meaningful connections with people – what they do, where and how – and develop the skill of articulating your own interests and passions. When possible, exchange contact information and be sure to follow up afterwards. Here are some networking tips to familiarize yourself with as you build your network.
3. Research your next steps.
It’ll surprise you how fast summer internships go by. Remember though, that just like you put work into securing your current internship, the same amount of work (probably even more) should be applied toward planning your next steps.
If you’re like a lucky few, you may have a very clear idea of what you want to do afterward and how to get there. Otherwise, take advantage of your non-work time to do some research on all the possibilities for your academic and career development. For this, I've found that little chunks of time dedicated to doing such research has given me a clearer vision of my ideal post-graduation plans. In this, I took the advice of one of my professors who once told me that “researching and applying for jobs should be a part time job in itself.”
4. Consider having a “side hustle.”
Some people have an interest, talent, or skill that may not necessarily have a direct link with their current career paths or field of study. A good way to develop such areas is by engaging in a side hustle. For example, on weekday evenings and free weekends, I sometimes go to coffee shops to do research on prospective business ventures and grow my portfolio with some side graphic design projects as well.
The list of things you can do is endless. You just have to identify and/or focus on your passions. A musically-talented accounting student could, for example, consider playing at weddings on weekends or even recording their own original songs! One could also be a web developer intern this summer and do freelance projects on the side.
Some of the benefits of a side hustle include economic independence, road-testing potential career options, and developing transferable skills. Besides, juggling more than one job is a sign of a strong work ethic and grit that employers love to see in prospective employees these days.
5. Get a hobby and learn a new skill.
Baking, fishing, graphic design, a new programming language, a biweekly book challenge. These are only a few of the pursuits out there that you can add to your repertoire this summer.
Also consider learning some soft skills that will be beneficial to your chosen field or academic studies. These would not only look good on your resume but give you an indescribable feeling of fulfillment at the end of the summer!
While internships typically offer life-changing experiences for students, there are gaps in engagement and involvement. The goal here is to get the most of your summer so that you have more than one thing to show for at the end and inherently be a step ahead of your game. Enjoy the rest of your summer and don’t forget to have fun!