Dear Niamh,

I’m about to start my internship. Even though I went through the interview process, I’m not really sure what’s expected of me. What do I do?

Dear Student,

Congratulations on your internship! Expectations will often be communicated to you within the first few days on the job. If not, you will want to do some information gathering through observation of your colleagues, reading of materials, and asking questions.

Formal Orientation vs Jumping Right In

Some organizations will have a formal orientation that could include presentations or meetings arranged with members of the staff to help you learn more about the work and where your role might intersect. Other supervisors might simply start you off by assigning you your first project or task. If this is the case, be proactive in your meetings with your supervisor to better understand their expectations for your role. Not only will this make things clearer for you, but will also show your supervisor that you take initiative.

Come ready with questions. These could include:

  • Where does my role fit into the larger organization?
  • What can I expect to work on in the first few weeks?
  • How often should we plan to meet or touch-base?
  • Are there any ongoing projects I can help with?
  • Who should I go to with questions and when is the best time to ask those questions?
  • How can I receive feedback on my projects to make sure I’m delivering what you need?

Learn through listening And observation 

Ask questions and clarify tasks, projects, and assignments. Questions show genuine interest and desire to do a good job. Listening can help you better understand both the organization and industry and allow you to provide more thoughtful ideas as the summer progresses.

For more tips, check out CCE’s 10 Tips for Making the Most of Your Internship.