How to Take Advantage of Your Internship

Posted on Monday, Jul 18, 2016

Early on in college I realized that I wanted to give back by pursuing a career about people and my passions, but I also wanted to know how I could better achieve that goal. Prior to arriving in D.C. for my internship, I often wondered what that would be. I thought the most important thing about being here would be directly related to my job. I thought to myself, maybe I’ll learn a new skill or complete an interesting project. However, I realized pretty quickly – just as you will – that the most important thing about being a young intern in D.C. is undoubtedly networking. The number of experienced professionals I work with in the office is incredible, and you’ll likely feel the same way once you settle into your own office. The best part is that all your colleagues were also likely interns at some point, so reach out to them and grab coffee or lunch. For the five weeks that I’ve been in D.C. thus far, I haven’t had one individual turn down a request for coffee and/or lunch.

It gives you the opportunity to see how and why people got here, and why you shouldn’t be so worried about finding your way after college. And hey, you usually get a free coffee/lunch out of these meetings, so take advantage. Reach out to those around you and take a break from the stress of your office. You’ll be surprised what you learn, and how it may benefit you in the long run. I know I already feel like I’ve formed some invaluable relationships.

So remember:
  • Reach out to your colleagues and realize your internship will go by fast
  • Keep in contact with the people you reach out to
  • Enjoy yourself
  • Network, network, network
Jonathan Gillespie
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C.