Getting the Most out of Your Internship

Posted on Monday, Dec 10, 2018

You’ve been accepted in the PPIP program and accepted where you are going to be in interning for the semester. Your suitcases are packed with all of the new business clothes your parents bought for you and they are standing on the steps, ready to go on the flight that will take you to Washington D.C. in t-minus how many hours. Fast forward to 12 short weeks later, you are in your office, following the same mundane routine everyday not really sure how this internship is helping you or what goals you still want to reach in your last few weeks left here in D.C. Here are three tips to make sure you get the most out of your internship.
Step 1. Set specific goals for yourself that you want to accomplish here during your time in D.C. Be as specific and narrow as possible and discuss them with your boss to make sure they are well defined and attainable. Without your goals, you may end up just fulfilling tasks others in the office may need done that don’t interest you, and you won’t get to show initiative on projects you’re are passionate about. It’s really easy to just sit back and do the work and let time fly by, but with your goals you make sure you are using your internship to help put you in a better place for what may lie after that whether it be graduate school or working in a specific job sector you had never thought about before.
Step 2. Write out your goals and make a timeline when you want them to be completed. One of the easiest things to do is make goals and then forget about them. Luckily, for the internship you have to write them out and submit them. I recommend printing out a copy and leaving it at your desk to make sure you are constantly reminded of what you want to achieve. Not only will you forget about them, but you can keep track on your progress, and adjust or add new ones as you progress in your internship. My recommendation is to check with your supervisor either weekly or bi-weekly and see how they think you are meeting your goals. They can recommend specific projects to work on and put you in contact with people that you can learn from. This will be your personal plan to make sure you are on your way to fulfilling everything you set your mind to as you waited for the semester to come for when you would finally be moving to DC.
Step 3. Ask as many questions as you can. There are no dumb questions, but make sure they are questions you really want the answer for and will benefit you. You are here in D.C. with some of the most brilliant people you will ever meet. Ask them questions, pick their brain, soak up their knowledge that they want to pass along to others so that you can grow. Use all of your opportunities to meet new people and learn about their paths and how they got there. You never know, it may inspire you to choose a career path you would have never imagined for yourself. Another reason to always ask questions is because new opportunities arise. If there is an event you want to attend during work, ask and your boss and may even give you some insight on what the event is about and how it may help play into your other goals. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Time flies by fast, but make sure it flies by fast, so that when you look back at your experience here in D.C. you remember all of the positive things you achieved and not regret everything you wanted to still do. You only get one opportunity here, who knows if you’ll ever be back again. So use it wisely!

Channing Shepherd
Environmental Protection Agency - Office of Land and Emergency Management
Washington, D.C. | fall 2018