Get the most out of your summer internship!

Do you have a great summer internship lined up? Fantastic! Let’s talk about how to get the most out of this summer’s adventures.

  • Start your internship with an open mind.
    Many students have preconceived notions about particular jobs. Keep an open mind and make the best of the situation if it doesn’t match your expectations.
  • Pay attention.
    Now that you have several classes under your belt, you may feel confident that you know what needs to be done at your internship. However, I caution you to listen carefully and continue to learn. There will be plenty of time to show off your knowledge, but use these early days to absorb everything you’re told and show the hosting manager that you are able to listen and carry out the requested functions.
  • Bring your whole self to work.
    You were hired because you have the experience needed to excel in this internship. Bring your ideas, your skills and your pleasant demeanor. Bring your people skills and your technical savvy. Bring your motivation and your organization. All of these things together will be needed if you are going to be successful this summer.
  • Dress appropriately.
    While jeans with rips may be fashionable on campus, that style may not fly at your internship. Find out what the dress code is, and follow it.  Be sure that if a tie is needed that you wear a tie. Shine your shoes and iron your clothes. If your pants have belt loops, please put on a belt and do not let your pants sag. Flip flops and halter tops should be reserved for the beach. Dress for success!
  • Ask questions.
    We all know that the only dumb question is the one that is not asked. Remember that this is an internship and you are there to learn, so don’t be afraid to ask all of your questions. Often you will find that others have the same questions, too. Your questions may even spark new ideas for your hosting manager!
  • Set up a feedback session.
    It will be very important to get feedback about what you are doing and how you are doing it. To prepare for a feedback session, draft an agenda or list of points that you would like to talk about. Feedback is a great way to help you grow professionally and personally.
  • Prepare for your future.
    As your internship comes to an end, take a few steps to align your future with success. For example, create a document that highlights some of the key things you learned during your internship and a summary of the projects you completed. This will be helpful later when you draft your resume or need talking points for future interviews. Request a letter of reference from your manager and explore future job opportunities that may result from your internship, either in the near term or after graduation. For example, Sodexo has an intern Brand Ambassador program that offers a stipend to top interns to promote Sodexo on campus following their internship.


Internships – whether paid or unpaid – are a great way to learn and gain valuable knowledge that will be beneficial as you plan for your future. Use your internship time to the fullest!

As manager for Sodexo’s Future Leaders Internship Program, I see first-hand how some students maximize their experiences and others just drift along. Throughout our eight-week spring internship and our 10-week summer internship, our interns gain knowledge about how we run our business while making every day a better day for our clients and customers.

Our goal is to train future leaders. So, we provide opportunities for students to learn catering, marketing, culinary, finance, retail operations, environmental services, facility and grounds services. Additionally, they are paired with a Sodexo manager who acts as their mentor for an entire year. At the conclusion of our programs, we hope that our students have gained valuable skills and knowledge to help them pursue the career of their dreams.

Internships are great learning opportunities. But, they’re also about making professional connections. Do your best to leave a lasting impression on the managerial team that supported you – it might lead to student job opportunities when you graduate. To learn more about internship opportunities at Sodexo, follow me on Twitter.  Good luck!


Derren is the Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo which is a leader in integrated food service and facilities management. He is responsible for managing the Sodexo Future Leaders Internship Program as well as executing diversity sourcing initiatives for both campus and targeted experienced hires. With over 14+ years of experience with Sodexo, Derren has had great success as a General Manager in the company’s Health Care Services division as well as in several positions within their Talent Acquisition Group. He’s an active corporate partner with the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH). Derren is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR). Follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, or just Network with Us.

Related posts:

  1. No Summer Internship? No Problem!
  2. Summer Internship Check-in: Five Things to Do Now
  3. Wrapping Up Your Summer Internship

One Response to “Get the most out of your summer internship!”

  1. avatar Lew Sauder says:

    This is good advice for anyone starting an internship or a full-fledged job in their career. A couple of things I would add are:
    - Learn professional behavior. This includes the type of topics you discuss in a business setting, appropriate meeting behavior and in which settings it’s OK (and not OK) to use your mobile phone.
    - Develop relationships. Whether you end up working at this business for your full time job or not, it’s important to begin networking with professionals and developing your brand with them.
    Lew Sauder, author, Consulting 101: 101 Tips For Success in Consulting (

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