Right now, you are probably in the beginning weeks of your summer internship. You know the names of your co-workers, and you can finally find your office without asking someone for help! Now the fun begins.
In 2016, I did a summer internship at the Summer Undergraduate Mentorship Program as a Health Career Connection intern. It was a lot of work with emails and scheduling and event planning, but the one thing that I value from the internship were the relationships I was able to build. I am so grateful for the friends that I met during the internship and the mentors who have helped me along the journey to medical school.
Relationships are crucial. While I was preparing to take the MCAT and feeling stressed, it was great to text a friend I made though HCC just to vent about what I was feeling and learn how she handled the stress. It is much easier to land a job through a personal connection than sending a resume through an online job portal.
Here are 5 tips on building relationships during your summer internship:
1. Take Advantage of Lunch!
Don’t be tempted to work or waste time on your phone during your lunch break. Instead, use that free time to talk with your co-interns and colleagues and build relationships. Talk about your career goals. Talk about any worries or insecurities you have about your career path. Talk about the upcoming basketball game! Get to know the people you work with because those relationships will last beyond your internship.
2. Seek Feedback From Your Supervisor
It’s a great idea to ask your supervisor how you are doing at the internship and what are ways you can improve. This allows you to get constructive feedback and build a positive and respectful relationship with your supervisor. Remember, this is an internship - you are still growing as a person and there are always ways to improve. The best moments during the internships were having helpful conversations with my supervisors, which helped me grow as a professional and person.
3. Be Friendly
Having a smile and a happy attitude as you work can truly make a difference. It brightens the work environment and lets people get comfortable around you. Pay your co-worker a compliment. Offer to get your supervisor a cup of coffee. People may not remember what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
4. Aim to be Helpful
As you progress in your internship, there will be opportunities to go above and beyond what you are called to do to help your team succeed. I think it is good to take advantage of those opportunities to show that you are a committed person. Doing the extra effort now can help when you need a recommendation for graduate school or when looking for a new job.
5. Stay Connected
All good things must come to an end. After your internship ends, make it a priority to stay in touch with your supervisor and co-workers to foster the relationship. Give an update on what you are doing and your career goals so far. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Visit when you are in town. At every step of your journey, you will need support and guidance from people. The friends you create during your summer internship can very well be the friends you hold on to throughout your life.