For some college students, summer means a break from class, exams, and endless class projects. For those of you who are interning this summer, this is your chance to apply knowledge from the classroom while gaining valuable work experience.
Work experience aside, your internship should give you the opportunity to learn new skills, discover your strengths and determine where your interests lie. It should also shine light on areas where you can improve – whether that may be speaking in public, fine tuning the art of conversation, or learning advanced technical skills.
While the internship experience is invaluable, you need to be able to articulate the value of your internship when you return to campus. Sure, professors will ask you about your experience, but more importantly, future employers will want to know what you learned. Being able to quantify your experience and give details about the scope and scale of your contributions will help you stand out from the crowd during the interview process.
The best tool to implement this summer: keeping a daily journal. No matter if it is handwritten or digital, an internship journal is one surefire way to guarantee your experience reaches its maximum potential.
Why keep a journal?
Keeping a detailed, organized journal of your experiences makes recording your experience onto your résumé and LinkedIn profile a breeze. It can also help if you are required to write a paper about your internship experience.
- Organization: You should keep a journal to keep track of tasks assigned to you by your supervisors. Recording details on major events, questions, discoveries, feelings and factual information each day will make it easier to reflect on each experience at the conclusion of your internship. A carefully organized journal makes adding your brand new work experience to your résumé much easier as you already have all the information you need recorded.
- Goal setting: Just as you set goals for your education, it is important to set goals in your professional life. Throughout the internship it is important to set daily, weekly and monthly goals in order to track your growth as an intern and a budding professional. Keeping track of the steps completed to achieve each goal will motivate you to keep doing the best work possible.
- Networking: Throughout the course of your internship, you will encounter a lot of new people and people can be hard to remember. Writing the names of each person you meet and starting an organized collection of business cards is a great way to lay the foundation of your professional network. At the end of each day, add these people to your LinkedIn account if possible so you are able to put a name to a face.
Speaking of LinkedIn, if you haven’t created a profile yet, check out How to Create a Killer LinkedIn Profile That Will Get You Noticed by Bernard Marr.
Question prompts to get you started
Getting started is oftentimes the hardest thing to do. Your journal does not have to be fancy or complicated. It can be a cheap notebook, the note app on your smartphone, or a simple document file on your laptop. Start off by keeping a list of significant events, successes, and accomplishments. What did you do today? Who did you meet? Did you attend meetings or conferences?
Other questions to consider when writing in your internship journal:
- What are your expectations for your internship experience?
- What were your initial reactions during your first week?
- What are your goals? What do you hope to accomplish?
- What projects have you been assigned?
- What theories or skills from your classes are you using in your daily assignments?
- What knowledge areas or technical skills would you like to learn more about?
- What have you contributed to the organization?
- What has surprised you the most about this experience?
- Has the internship experience given you what you were hoping it would?
- Has the experience strengthened or weakened your commitment to pursuing a career in financial planning?
Even if you keep a weekly summary, anything is better than nothing. You will be surprised how much you forget once you sit down to update your résumé at the conclusion of your internship.
We want to hear from you! Let us know if you have suggestions or ideas for keeping track of your internship experiences.
Blog post contributors: Abby Hendricks ’18 and Callie Hanson ’19.
Abby Hendricks ’18 is a junior Agricultural Communications major from Nacogdoches, Texas. Callie Hanson ’19 is a sophomore Agricultural Communications major from Baytown, Texas.