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Getting the most out of an Internship

  1. Be prepared to undertake a major, time-consuming effort, to bring together all of your knowledge, skills, learning capacity and creativity. A good internship is a chance of a lifetime. It can be a unique experience you'll always look back on with positive thoughts.
  2. Be assertive (not abrasive) at your agency in seeking out significant assignments and important responsibilities and challenges. But, like any newcomer, be ready to accept without complaint the routine, menial tasks that have to be done in any agency. Remember that being accepted as part of the staff (even if on a temporary basis) will require some flexibilty on your part and that all jobs, big and small, are more successful when the staff expresses interest and concern for all of the details.
  3. Avoid 'cliques,' 'office politics' and idle gossip. Be discrete. Stand aside of internal conflicts and personality clashes.
  4. Don't become so immersed in the nitty-gritty of a particular assignment, or your agency's narrow missions, so that you miss the bigger picture and the opportunities available to you from the total environment of your internship location. In many locations, your site supervisor will probably encourage you to learn about the city and participate in activities which have been specifically designed for interns.
  5. Learn from your supervisors, professional associates, and other interns through observation and dialogue. Who do you admire in your agency? Perhaps he/she could become a role model for you to follow.
  6. Be alert to 'leads' about employment opportunities through the internship which may be available to you in the future.
  7. Unless you are graduating in May, the internship experience may alter your plans, goals, and course selections back at IUP---and ultimately affect your career plans. This is not unusual. Be flexible.
  8. At times you may be amazed, confused, overwhelmed, disgusted, frustrated, and disillusioned about the agency you work for, the people in it, the agency's clientele and 'goals,' human nature, and the political process. This is natural, and part of the learning experience. You are an 'outsider,' with a fresh outlook, lots of energy, youth and possibly idealism with a dash of skepticism. This is good, too, and of potential value to your agency.
  9. Don't be intimidated by the presence in your agency of interns (or alumni) from 'prestigious' schools. Many agencies specifically recruit IUP students.
  10. Do not be surprised if you find out that other interns at your site do not have any academically oriented responsibilities. Many colleges and universities assign credit for completion of the internship. IUP's credits are earned on the basis of academic and work responsibilities. The journal and project requirements are very important parts of the process and should be taken very seriously.
  • Sarah Wheeler, Internship Coordinator
  • Political Science Department
    Keith Annex, Room 107
    390 Pratt Drive
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2290
  • Fax: 724-357-3810