Top 5 – Tips for Summer Interns


So it’s summer intern season again. Internships are a great way for a student to get experience, skills, and a professional network. And they are a great way for employers
to tap into a potential future employee and get new ideas.


I’ve had many summer internships myself and managed many summer interns. There’s a lot to learn there so I’ve written my top 5 tips for summer interns.

Here we go:

  1. Dress like the office – A simple rule that many interns mess up. This isn’t college so dress what everyone else is wearing. If people wear shoes, wear shoes not sandals. If wear suits, then wear a suit. Also, I would argue that it is also bad to overdress. I knew an intern who wore suit and a tie every day when that wasn’t work dress code…it got old after awhile.

  2. Work hard and ask for more – Sometimes interns goof off. Sometimes they are good and move quickly and don’t know if they can ask for more work. The key is to do good work and go back to your boss when you are done. Honestly, managers have a hard time figuring out how long anything takes work wise, yet alone for an intern. One caveat – if it is slow at work for a week and you’ve already asked twice for more work, let it slide and don’t be annoying

  3. It’s called networking – The real value of an internship is getting a number of people to vouch for you and want to help you get a job. So go to everything you can. Work lunches, coffee breaks, work gatherings, etc. People want to help out people they spend time with so spend time to get to know people at the office

  4. Ask for what you need – There will be some core work that has to be done for the summer in the division you were hired. But maybe there are some other goals you have – you want to meet someone from the International division, attend a leadership meeting, visit a field office. Don’t be afraid to ask – as the intern, they’ll probably let you go

  5. Have fun and be professional – Nobody likes the mopey intern. Everyone loves the fun, bright, and energetic intern who is sooooo excited to be working. Because for everyone else this is a job they do every day. Half the battle in life is just showing up on time, professional dressed, with a good upbeat attitude. Do that and you’ll be just fun.

What’s your intern tips?

Check out some of my other “Top 5’s”


Top 5: Gov’t Shows That Should Exist
Top 5: Tips For Summer Interns
Top 5: Best Places to Have a Government Job
Top 5: Worst Places to Have a Government Job
Top 5: Reasons You Didn’t Get the Promotion
Top 10: What Works in Social Media
Top 5: Ways to Handle a Boring Meeting
Top 5 Signs You Need a New Job
Top 5: Ways to Look Important at the Office

photo credit: Mark Warner via photopin cc

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Profile Photo Peter Sperry

Avoid extremes. Some interns seem to think a 12 week summer job will determine their entire future, others act as if it is a glorified vacation.

Learn what you can; do the job to the best of your ability; be friendly with your co-workers; keep in mind an internship is part of your education but not all of it. If you do these things; people will remember you favorably and be willing to help when you are seeking more permenant employment.

Try to prove you already know more than the boss; obsess over trivial details; focus on only networking with “key” contacts; treat your internship as the gateway to fame and wealth. Do these things and people will be glad to see you leave at the end of the summer. Their future references will include phrases such as “a little TOO eager”, “very knowlegeble but needs to listen more” and worst of all “focused on self promotion”.

Blow off training opportunities, fail to follow instructions, dress like your at the beach, show up late and hung over several times, put more effort into the office softball team than the filing system, make a spectical of yourself at social events or local watering holes. Do these things and people will laugh behind your back while enjoying the show. Their future references will include terms like “possible potential when more mature”, “judgement skills need more development” and “we chose not to ask them to come back because….”

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Profile Photo Attia Nasar

I think another great tip is to find a mentor who can assist you with any concerns you might have. I’ve found that some people really love sharing their experiences with others, take time to find those people and soak up as much as you can from them! Lucky for me I’ve got Steve, Andy, Megan and Stephen!

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Profile Photo Sara Estes Cohen

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do not be afraid to say you don’t know how to do something (and don’t say you do know how to do something that is impossible to learn in 24 hours…), ask for help and learn from your mistakes after the first try. No one wants to have to keep fixing the same mistake over and over and over and over.

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Profile Photo Ted Kniker

Find the career person who is going on vacation or long trip and see if you can take their portfolio while they are out. The best internship experiences I’ve had or given out as a supervisor have been the fill in for the GS 12/13/14 who is out of the office for more than a couple of week.

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Nice post, Steve.

Regarding #3 I would add: it’s not just who you know, but who you get to know.

Regarding #2 I would add: Be a work horse, not a show horse. Let your productivity and performance speak for you.

Lastly, make sure your boss doesn’t enter the room while you’re wolfing down that extra food after breaking down the executive luncheon, or copping a bagel/pastry from that culinary delightful tray of food you set up for the team leadership morning meeting. Otherwise you may be caught with your mouth full in more ways than one (lol).

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