How to Love your Summer Internship

By Morgan DeLuce

Two years ago, I spent my summer as an intern at UniversalGiving. I’ve now been on staff for over a year and recently came across a blog post I wrote reflecting on my internship experience in 2014. The importance of positive attitude and taking initiative are lessons that have helped me find success in my current role. I hope this can provide a few pointers on how to make the most of your job or internship!

UG-team-photo
Interns from UniversalGiving got together one night for a baseball game. We had a blast hanging out and cheering on the Giants!

This past summer, I had the privilege of interning with UniversalGiving™ in San Francisco. UniversalGiving is a website that allows users to find donation and volunteer opportunities all over the world. All of our non-profit partners are vetted using an extensive Quality Model process that fosters trust between donor/volunteer and NGO. The organization is an inspirational place to work; I learned how service can create a global community and– more than anything– I learned how to learn.

If we’re being honest, we all know that summer internships can be a bit dull. Most interns get stuck doing the grunt work. Add to that the fact that many internships are unpaid and it sounds like a pretty unfulfilling experience. Granted, I have been lucky enough to work for an organization whose mission I truly believe in, but there were other lessons I learned throughout my summer that helped me maximize my time at UniversalGiving. So how can you make the most out of your summer internship?

  1. Learn to create your own projects. Supervisors don’t always have the time to tell you what you should be working on every second of the day. I’ve found that everyone in the office appreciates it when an intern recognizes something that could be improved and takes the initiative to find a solution. Be observant and don’t be afraid to get creative!
  2. Make friends with other interns and coworkers! Having fun in the office is imperative to enjoying your summer. You are surrounded by smart, interesting people—get to know them! Once I reached out to the other people in my office, my experience did a complete 180°. I love the people I work with and look forward to going to work each morning knowing that I will have the opportunity to collaborate with so many creative and inspiring minds. They’ve become my friends—not just my coworkers.
  3. Remember the Big Picture. Your contributions can add up in a huge way. If you are excited about the work that your company or organization is doing, remember that you are contributing to that larger goal. For instance, I was tasked with rewriting the Frequently Asked Questions on our website, which may seem like a minor project, but I was really excited about it! Thousands of people would have their questions answered depending on what I wrote. This had the potential to significantly boost ratings on our website and even create new partnerships between UniversalGiving and other non-profits. There is no project too small.

My hope is that this blog post will help you figure out what your role will be at your internship—will you sit back and glide through the summer or will you take charge and create your own opportunities? As cliché as it sounds, it’s true that what you put into this experience is what you’ll get out of it.

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