Top 5 Tips for Being the Best Intern


4 minute read

A fashion intern in New York City
A fashion intern in New York City
Image courtesy of InterExchange

Congratulations, you landed the internship! Now what?

It’s time to prepare for this opportunity in the U.S. and begin developing as a professional who has a great attitude and delivers exceptional work. We know you want to make a great impression on your host employer and stand out from your peers, so here are our top five tips to make sure you leave a positive and lasting impression as an international intern.

1. Be Curious

Since you are embarking on an internship in a new country and new culture, you are probably already naturally curious about what it’s like to live in the U.S. and ready to try something different and new. It’s so important to be open-minded as an intern and express a willingness to have new experiences.

Host employers want to welcome someone who is eager to learn and ready to hit the ground running. Remember to:

  • Show genuine interest in your host’s work and learn more about the company and its projects
  • Ask questions
  • Volunteer to help on projects, especially if you have some down time

Keep in mind that, while confidence is great as an intern, the purpose of your program is that you learn from experienced individuals and build off what you already know. You’ll want to take initiative but also accept guidance from your supervisor and colleagues.

2. Be Resourceful and Organized

Interns tend to have a lot of responsibilities and projects to work on. During your internship, show your employer that you can use the tools around you to succeed.

If you can find the answer to a question yourself, do it! This shows your host employer that you can be resourceful, and if you can learn to be adaptive in their work environment, this can broaden your opportunities further.

It’s also important to be organized! Learn to practice good time management, and be careful to not take on too much. Always communicate with your supervisor if you cannot complete a project by a certain deadline.

You want your host employer to see that you are savvy, creative and can take initiative to get things done. That being said…

3. Ask for Help when You Need It

An internship is an opportunity to learn. Your supervisor is there to support you and to teach you new skills. Don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance if you need it. It’s perfectly OK to ask for clarification or support.

It’s also normal to make mistakes - just make sure to take responsibility and learn from them. You should also be proactive about solving any small problems before they become larger ones.

When you ask for feedback from your supervisor, you are showing that you are willing to take the necessary steps to succeed during your internship in the U.S.

4. Be Professional

Show your host employer that you want to be there!

  • Always be professional and dress the part
  • Take cues from your colleagues and look at how they communicate with one another in person or via email and follow suit
    • For example, do employees frequently call each other, use email, or get up to talk in person?
  • Arrive on time every day, and don’t spend time on your phone or non-work related websites

5. Network

Take the time to get to know your supervisor, colleagues and other interns. You never know where a conversation could lead or if these people could help you out in your future career, so start connecting early!

  • Find a mentor
    • Ask your supervisor or someone else within the organization that you’d like to learn more from out to lunch
    • Ask questions about their experiences or if they have any advice
    • Don’t be afraid to ask if they can be your mentor if you get along and feel like you can learn more from them
  • Ask questions to those more-seasoned professionals around you - such as how they got into the field or what advice they have for an intern
  • Don’t forget to ask your host employer for a reference at the end so they can recommend you for future positions
  • Finally, keep in touch! Maintain those contacts to keep your network vast and active

More tips regarding networking and how to find a mentor can be found on our blog and YouTube.

Overall, show your host employer that not only can you meet their expectations for the internship but that you can also exceed them!

Also, check out the video below for some advice Career Training’s alumni gave on how to have a successful internship in the U.S.:

Questions or concerns about interning in the USA? We’re here for you!

Contact InterExchange Career Training USA via email at training@interexchange.org or phone +1.212.924.0446.

Allison

Allison joined the InterExchange team in 2011 and holds a B.A. in International Affairs and an M.A. in Higher Education. She oversees the daily operations of the Career Training USA program where she has the privilege of working with students and professionals from around the world pursuing U.S. internships and training programs. Allison is originally from Massachusetts and studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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