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Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

Preparing for the Summer Internship

So your child has just landed his or her internship for the summer. Congratulations! A pat on the back or a celebratory dinner is certainly in order, but don’t let him or her make the mistake of believing that just getting the internship is enough.

College students have more reasons than ever to make the most of their summer internships. According to a recent report by Michigan State University and the Collegiate Employment Research Institute, the importance of internships has steadily increased over the last decade and they are now many organizations’ primary source of talent recruitment.

In an internship, performing well, developing transferable skills and fostering strong relationships are crucial. Even if a full-time job offer does not follow, managers of high-performing student interns often become the students’ biggest advocates in future job searches. With the transformed global knowledge-worker economy of the 21st Century, the stakes and the competition are higher than ever.

The first step towards a successful summer is preparation. In order to help students hit the ground running in their internships, here are some tips developed by Patrick Sullivan, our Associate Director of Career Education & Counseling and affectionately known in the OPCD as the “Intern King”:

  1. Know what to expect – Get as familiar as possible with the environment in which you will be working. If you haven’t already, download a Vault Career Guide from the OPCD site and review the information in the book to get more familiar with the industry and setting in which you will be working.
  2. Be prepared – If you have a working relationship with someone at the organization where you will be employed, contact them to ask about the kind of tasks you will be doing during the internship. If you recognize that you need to build up a particular set of knowledge or skills, find ways to build those competencies.
  3. Do your research – Begin to follow the news related to the organization and subject area on which you will be working. Seek out articles in newspapers and magazines. Set up a Google News Alert on the organization, your functional area, notable executives and any other topics your research indicates will be important during your employment. You can set these searches to deliver news on daily, weekly, or ongoing basis.
  4. Plan ahead
    • Find Housing: The OPCD has identified to numerous seasonal housing sites and resources organized by city. Click this link to find housing in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, NYC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Texas, and Washington, D.C and other locations.
    • Prepare a Budget: Utilize tools like CashCourse or Mint.com to set a budget and track your spending.
    • Learn about your city: Use local websites, newspapers, and contacts to learn about transportation, events, restaurants and other things to do in your neighborhood and city. Connect with alumni and classmates via the LinkedIn Wake Forest Career Connectors group to ask for help and advice in your new city.


Later this spring, we’ll ask Patrick for his top ten tips for a successful summer internship. Stay tuned!

Category: On the Job Tips, Tips for Students