I’m often asked by students at Northwestern University, how they can prepare for their internship that starts in a few months or weeks. Personally, I love that students are thinking about how they can position themselves to be a valuable asset to their future employer and also get the most out of the internship as possible. I decided today to dedicate my blog post to students and soon to be graduates from NU looking to get ahead and prepare for their first job or internship.

Here are some of my tips:

Tip #1: Network ahead of your start date

  • Ask your supervisor who you can speak with (past interns, other current interns, alumni who work there) in order to show that you are passionate about contributing to the company and learning as much as possible.
  • If your supervisor doesn’t have a list of alumni who are in your company- expand to find alumni through Northwestern CareerNet in your city or industry. Northwestern CareerNet is a part of the alumni directory in which NU alumni have designated themselves as a career resource to students and other alumni.
  • Register now for networking events already scheduled in NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, DC and more through the Northwestern Alumni Association.

Tip #2: Get to know your future neighborhood

  • Locate the local post office, grocery store, best places to eat and drink, places of worship, museums, movie theaters, parks, etc. in order to take advantage of your living environment and feel safe/comfortable.

Tip #3: Plan weekend trips to nearby points of interest

  • Think about not only developing professionally and socially during your internship or job, but also culturally.

Tip #4: Reflect on what you hope to accomplish

  • Think about your goals ahead of time to be able to communicate effectively your desired outcomes to your supervisor when you arrive.
  • Interns should make a learning agenda with their supervisor as a way to structure the process.
  • Full-time job starters should hit the ground running when they start a job. But remember to still ask questions and discuss big picture goals and objectives with your supervisor so not too appear over ambitious to a point where you come off like a “know it all”. Most employers will want you to get to know the culture of the company before you start making suggestions for change.