Throwback Post: How To Become A Successful Intern

June 2005, I stepped into my first corporate job eager to learn, eager to start my career.  9 years later, I look back and I’m still that eager professional but just slightly older.

My first year as an intern taught several great lessons–most of which I still remember today.  Here’s a tribute to my original successful intern post and a recap of my tips for all interns starting their career this year.


How To Become A Successful Intern

1. Always be willing to take on new projects, the “Yes I Can” attitude

  • *This allows you the opportunity to show your skills and build TRUST with your co-workers
  • *Every new project teaches you something new and this broadens your skill set
  • *Even if the project is tedious, do it. After all, you have to earn your position

2. Challenge Yourself to NO end

  • *Step out of your comfort zone
  • *Network with your co-workers, introduce yourself, find out what they are working on
  • *Finish projects fast and accurately, then ask for more work

3. Ask questions, Be curious

  • *If you are unsure of something, ask for clarification
  • *Make sure you know what needs to get done and when
  • *Ask questions about your department and the overall business

4. Communicate with your team

  • *Always follow up on emails and tasks
  • *Keep your managers informed on your progress with current tasks
  • *Let your team know of any hardships you are facing, perhaps they will have a suggestion

5. Do not be afraid to fail

  • *As an intern you will make mistakes, but take responsibility and learn from it
  • *Do not let failure hold you back from challenging yourself
  • *Remember that as an intern you are not expected to know everything, so make an effort to learn

6. Prioritize Your Work

  • *Be careful you do not miss deadlines, so prioritize your tasks so you do not fall behind
  • *Ask your managers to help you with this…”What is most important?”
  • *Set your own deadlines/timelines for completion of tasks (preferably 1 day before the actual due date)

7. Find a Mentor who is willing to help your career growth, perhaps the most benefical learning experience

  • *LEARN everything you can from this person
  • *Use this mentor as a resource for questions and learning new skills
  • *Refer to your mentor for advice (especially during hardships)

8. Figure out how you can ADD VALUE to your team

  • *What does your team need? Figure that out, and make it happen
  • *Exceed expectations on your work, never just settle for the minimum
  • *Be an over-achiever…pay attention to details and exceed expectations


  • *Shine above everyone else
  • *Make your presence known
  • *Smile, dress professionally, and perform!

10. Be a human “sponge”

  • *Soak in all of the new skills and knowledge you are gaining
  • *LISTEN carefully to your coworkers, mentors, and managers…they ALL can teach you something
  • *Observe your team and company. How do they work together? What can be improved?

Good luck to all interns starting their careers this year and cherish every moment.