Group of workers with interns, hands in the middle as a team

Congrats, You Got the Internship! Now What?

The Secrets to Stellar Internships


Whether you spent months searching for the perfect job or an amazing opportunity fell into your lap, starting any new role can be intimidating. Walking into the office or logging onto that first virtual meeting is sure to trigger anxious butterflies. New faces, new names, new expectations, and new responsibilities can quickly become overwhelming. The pressure of making a good first impression can be burdensome to even the most confident people.


As an intern, these feelings can carry even more anxiety and stress. Interns are often sold the idea that a company is graciously offering them an opportunity to learn more in their desired area of study and be mentored by a current professional in the field. This is certainly true and can be one of the most valuable experiences of an internship. However, there is a secret that companies don’t often think to share with their interns: they need and want you! If we’ve learned anything from the recent labor shortages in 2021, it’s that businesses need workers to survive. So how do interns learn to accept their value and start well at their new internship?

Let’s explore some strategies and tips for interns and employers to help interns not only survive but also thrive!




Be a Positive People Person

Workplaces, now more than ever, are sources of social activity and interaction that so many people crave. I don’t know about you, but I think I forgot that people existed outside of those Brady Bunch boxes on Zoom for a while during 2020. Co-workers want to meet you, so don’t be afraid to get to know them. Smile, laugh, and don’t forget this is an amazing opportunity to network and get to know some pretty incredible people.


How can employers support interns?

Be inclusive! Ensure that interns are included in workplace chitchat. Especially if they are virtual, it is crucial that employers are intentionally reaching out, even just for small talk. Devote time at the beginning or ending of meetings to check in with your interns, learn about them, and see if there are better ways to support them. Social strategies that saved our sanity during 2020 can still be implemented today to have one-on-one meetings to catch up or virtual coffees with co-workers. Include interns in fun activities hosted by the company, volunteer opportunities, or diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings.



Ask for Help

I want to let you in on another secret: interns are not expected to know everything or have all of the skills necessary for the internship. Our previous education and experiences may have taught us a lot, but internships are a fast and deep dive into more of the skills that will be  required for that dream job or dream field. Mentors and supervisors of interns often have an innate desire to help, so take advantage of their vast knowledge. Ask those questions, get more clarifications on your projects, and never ever feel ashamed of asking for help. An unasked question will always go unanswered!


How can employers support interns?

Allow time and space for interns to ask questions. Learning new skills and being assigned new projects can be overwhelming, and interns don’t always know what questions they have right away. Ensure there are communication channels available for questions at the beginning, during, and end of projects. Provide a safe environment for questions by encouraging interns regularly and always leaving the door open for help.



Communication is Key

One of the first questions I was asked when starting my internship at Your Clear Next Step was, “What do you need in terms of communication to be successful?” My first thought was honestly I don’t even know how I work best or what communication styles are effective for me. My second thought was why have I never been asked this question before? I am very much the perfectionist that does not consider a project complete until it absolutely meets my standards, which I have quickly learned is not a very successful tactic. I’ve learned that I need time to reflect on my work and receive reassurance that I am doing well even if I am just submitting a rough draft. Don’t be afraid to explore what you need and ask for it. After all, working with your own personal communication style will only make you a better intern for your company.


How can employers support interns?

Be open and honest about communication. Ask your interns and employees what communication styles and channels work best for them. Share these with each other so everyone is supported with their individual preferences. No employee has to be tied to one form of communication. Provide the opportunity for an employee to choose different communication channels such as email for longer tasks, Slack or Microsoft Teams for quick questions or updates, and Zoom or Microsoft teams for virtual face-to-face meetings. This is also a great opportunity for interns to try different communication tools. Allowing interns and employees to choose their communication styles creates the most effective work environment for everyone.




Be Confident

You were hired because the company wanted you. They saw you, believed in you, and know you have the skills and potential necessary to be an amazing asset for their company. Take confidence from that. At the beginning of my first internship,  I constantly told myself that I was only hired because there was a small applicant pool. I didn’t have any graphic design knowledge, social media skills, or the previous work history to make me a good intern. But I worked hard, and I tackled every new obstacle with every project I was given. I eventually became everything I thought I wasn’t when I first started the internship. Be confident in whatever skills you possess. Be confident that you were hired for a reason. Be confident that you will grow exponentially every step of the way.


How can employers support interns?

Empower interns throughout their growth journey. Reassure them that internships are a place to learn. Praise them for attempting new tasks, progressing with new skills, and asking questions. Interns want to impress their supervisors and know they are doing valuable work for the company. Make sure you explain the why behind what they are working on. Recognize that interns are often in an uncomfortable situation entering a new company without all of the skills they feel necessary to flourish independently. Internships are scary, so make sure interns recognize their value and grow in their confidence of skills and of themselves throughout their time with you.


Be You!

Interns bring new ideas, personalities, and a fresh generational perspective. Whether you travel the world, have immense knowledge on one specific topic, or really just like to talk about your cat, every person brings value to the workplace. Everything about you is unique. This is your internship, so let your identities, interests, and experiences shape it to be what you want.

How can employers support interns?

Interns may enter your company with entirely different identities and experiences than you. That’s okay! In fact, both of you will benefit from learning from the other. The world is rapidly changing, and interns may encounter ideas or skills that you’ve never heard about. Likewise, you may have an incredible wealth of knowledge that interns need to add to their vocational skills. By providing a safe work environment to share new concepts, generational, cultural, and educational differences can create a wonderfully diverse and inclusive company. Interns applied to your company to learn from you, but you may be surprised by how much you can learn from them!


What experiences have you had as an intern or an employer that created successful internships? We’d love to hear how these strategies helped you thrive!


Topics: YP, Communication & Collaboration, Leadership & Influence

Allie Tubbs

About the Author

Allie Tubbs

Allie Tubbs is a communications intern at Your Clear Next Step. Allie is a student at Simpson College and is double majoring in History and Disability Studies. When she isn’t working, Allie enjoys competing on Simpson’s mock trial team, hanging out with friends and family, cuddling with her cat, or bingeing the latest Netflix hit show.

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