How to thrive at your internship


After Glynn Davis, a senior in LAS, ended his internship last summer at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago, he was offered a full time position upon graduation.

Davis first encountered PwC at the Actuarial Career Fair, where he spoke to one of the lead model analysts of the firm. A few days after the fair, Davis received an email offering him an invitation to the first round interviews held on campus, which was followed by a second round of interviews held in the PwC Chicago office.

“During my interview, it turned out that the interviewer and I both liked running, which became a talking point between us and fostered a good relationship that carried over in my internship,” Davis said.

At some companies, it is not unusual for a student to receive a job offer at the end of the internship.

“The qualities I had that made me best for this position was that I was technically capable, willing to take on new tasks and fun to be around,” Davis said. “If you are interested in an internship, ensure that you are working hard in school and doing something meaningful with your summers. The more well-rounded you are, the more likely you are to get an internship.”

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Pnina Steiner, senior director of Business Career Services, also believes that students who display academic success as well as showing eager interest in the company is a huge benefit to not only receiving an internship but using it as a pipeline to a full-time employment offer.

“From what we’ve seen in regards to students who are successful is that there are several factors that play into thriving in an internship,” Steiner said.

According to Steiner, a student’s path to success depends on these key steps:

Attitude & work ethic:

Maintaining a positive and motivating attitude toward tasks that may seem minuscule. Many employers have interns doing busy work. But done well, that recognition often times turns into a full time position. Employers notice that students who take on responsibilities and work hard during any task handed to them will succeed when it is really expected of them.

Knowing your expectations:

It’s extremely important for students to recognize what is expected of them before accepting and starting an internship. Not all companies have a structured internship program. Therefore, interns need to seek out what company expectations are. They should speak to their supervisors or the managing staff to ask questions about things such as deadlines and the ins and outs of their upcoming internship.

Seek mentors:

Students need to find people who have been successful and are experienced in their field of interest. Hearing mentors’ path of successes and failures are extremely beneficial and rewarding. Some companies supply a mentorship program, but not all. Students should seek individuals within their unit to help with the transition from school to professional employment and also to feel comfortable asking questions.

Taking initiative:

Volunteering and asking for work rather than waiting for your supervisor to ask you to do something shows the company how dedicated and hardworking the student is for that specific position.

High quality work:

It is extremely important for students to demonstrate high-quality work. Check and re-check for typos, no matter how minuscule. If management were to see a simple mistake, that minor error displays lack of interest and responsibility. An internship is the time for a student to contribute their work in the branding of a company and there will not be another chance.

Show interest:

Showing interest and doing company research beforehand stands out to employers immensely. However, be cautious in how you share your previous knowledge. Often times, employers are much older than interns, and there is a time gap between the knowledge of technology. Students need to respect that not all employers are up to date, so be cautious when making suggestions.

Ask questions:

If a student does not understand something or is unsure, the student absolutely needs to ask questions. It is much better to ask than to make a mistake.


It is crucial for students to network within the entire company they are working for, not just in their specific unit. This is their opportunity to meet other professionals within the company and to make good impressions. Look into volunteer opportunities within the company and take advantage of social events, during scheduled work hours or afterward. The more people you know within a company, the better chance you have of receiving a full time position.

Fran can be reached at [email protected].