Preparing for an Internship

This week’s Student Branding TV episode hits pretty close to home for Derek and I. We both just graduated from our respective schools (University of Washington for Derek, and University of Missouri for me!) and are starting paid internships in our industries of choice for the duration of the summer. Because we’ve spent our time since graduation prepping for these internships, we wanted to share some of our tips and experiences with you and offer some ideas for how to get ready for your dream internship…here goes!:

SBTV Episode 23 from StudentBranding on Vimeo.

Research the company you’re working for.

This seems like a “duh” piece of advice, but you might be surprised by how many people start their internship cold. Know more than just your department of the company- know the entire company’s mission, structure, key players and context in the past, present and future. This is different depending on where you’re working. Derek’s interning at a small start-up, but one founded by influential Seattle-area entrepreneurs, so his responsibility is to know a lot about those individuals’ backgrounds and experiences. I’m interning at NBC Universal, so my focus is more about understanding how the entire company is structured and where my division fits into all of that.

Be ready to keep tabs on industry news.

If you don’t already, subscribe to e-newsletters and bookmark important industry news Web sites. Knowing what’s going on in your chosen field will not only help you to perform better in your given position and open your eyes to new opportunities for jobs and professional/personal growth, but will also make it easier for you to participate in conversations with other people at your place of business and will let them know you’re serious about the company’s future- and your own.

Make that all news…

When you’re busy balancing school, work, extracurriculars, personal and professional obligations and a social life, it can be difficult to keep on top of local, state, national and international news, as well as topical news relating to your field of interest. However, once you start a job/internship, this really is crucial. You need to start your morning a half hour earlier and eat breakfast while reading the morning’s news, or get podcasts/news delivered to your phone or iPod and get on top of current events before you get to the workplace. That way, when your manager asks you for your opinion on President Obama’s latest remarks on the state of your industry, you aren’t standing around dumbfounded.

First impressions are everything.

So dress well and look the part! Even if your boss says “casual,” you should probably dress a little nicer on the first day if you want to be taken seriously. Be sure to introduce yourself with a firm handshake (and please, have clean hands and neat nails), and always commit people’s names to memory. Knowing everyone’s names on the second day will go along way in terms of becoming a part of the team- and seeming alert, attentive and competent.

Have fun!

Remember, your internship is an opportunity to find out if you really like a particular position, field or part of an industry. So enjoy it! Ask questions, make observations, form relationships, and be ready to say- and write- lots of thank you’s!

Send us your internship experiences, and we’ll write about them here or talk about them in the next episode of Student Branding TV!

See you next week!

-Erica and Derek


Derek is a serial entrepreneur and author of the book “Owning Y.O.U. The Personal Branding Action Guide.” About to graduate from the University of Washington, Derek majored in Entrepreneurial Ecommerce. Currently, Derek is the creative director at Wisdom N’ Treachery, a digital communication and branding consultancy. Derek resides in Seattle, Washington. To find out more, read his blog, follow him on Twitter, and connect with him on Linkedin.

Erica is a senior convergence journalism major at the University of Missouri getting ready to take the “next step” and is excited to share her experiences with you along the way. She spends most of her time reporting for local NBC affiliate KOMU 8 News, researching and experimenting solutions for the future of mobile media production for VeriCorder Technology, and exploring new ways journalists can tell stories and connect with readers, viewers and visitors. Connect with Erica on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr, or check out her Web site.

Related posts:

  1. Internship Check In: First Week
  2. Maximize Your Internship Opportunity – Vol. 2
  3. A Light at the End of the Bad Economy Tunnel

2 Responses to “Preparing for an Internship”

  1. avatar CP says:

    Hey Erica (and everyone),

    Internships are always really hard. Trying to figure out if you’ll fit in, making sure you get your work done (and in on-time), deciding when to ask for help – it’s stressful stuff! There are so many things that can go wrong, but even more that can go right (including getting asked back for another internship or, better yet, a job offer).

    I like to find media on the Internet to help people feel better. I’ve found this one for you:

    Check it out – I hope you find this video helps you get some work done…


  2. avatar Chris Kenny says:

    Nice job with the post and specific information about what to look for when researching. Unfortunately I got a little put off by the sound discrepancy going on as you flicked back and forth. Erica seems to have a close microphone whereas Derek sounded a little far off so every time I leaned closer to get a bettter idea of what Derek would say I would always get startled with Erica’s turn. Maybe if you had Derek’s sound coming through at the same quality as when you caught the tail end of his reply when looking to see how Erica was going to respond?
    Other than that, great effort, sorry I tuned out after awhile.

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