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4 Ways to Turn Your Summer Internship into an Amazing College Essay

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summer internship coffeecupSo, you got a summer internship? Well, we have good news and bad news. We’ll start with the bad news. You have to work all summer. This is really going to take time away from all of the college essay writing you planned to do this summer (but what are lunch breaks, evenings and weekends for, right?). The good news is that internships are nothing like what you may see in movies. No, you probably won’t be spending hours a day making photocopies and coffee for your superiors. Instead, you’ll be getting real-world experience in a field that you may potentially choose to go into one day, and if you pay attention, you could also end up with the perfect college essay topic.

In order to make the most of your internship, it’s important to observe everything going on around you. If you’re like most humans, you won’t remember all of that valuable information unless you make a conscious effort to record it. So, keep a notebook (or notebook app) with you at all times. Just in case you don’t know what to focus on, we put together this guide to show you how to take your notes to the next level.

1. Keep Track of Your Responsibilities

You will likely know the basic expectations for your internship before you even begin, but what you’ll realize when you arrive is that your responsibilities grow and change over time as you become more confident and your superiors come to trust your ability to do good work. So make sure to note how your work changes from week to week (or even day to day) and any new skills you acquire as you go. What can you do during week three of your internship that you couldn’t do during week one? What do you know now? Do you take on any additional special projects or tasks? Tracking your growth over the course of your internship is the perfect first step to formulating a compelling and personal narrative for your college essay.

2. Pay Attention to Professional Conversations

Take note of how professionals who have already established a place for themselves in the workplace act when talking to other professionals. Pay attention to their mannerisms, the language they use, the amount of eye contact they make, and how they address the other person. What interpersonal skills do people in this field seem to cultivate? How do they relate to your own gifts? Will you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone to succeed or are you a perfect fit? Allowing your internship to be a springboard for this kind of self reflection will give you a personal angle for your application essay, not to mention a clearer sense of what you might want to be when you grow up.

3. Write Down (and ask) Questions

As you start to delve into assigned tasks and get into the groove of your internship, you’ll probably have a lot of questions. Write them down. No question is a stupid question! Decide who will best answer your question, then ask it. Once you have the answer, write that down too! Not only will you gain information this way, but you may also form meaningful connections with colleagues who will begin to support and trust you as you gain more competence and comfort with their profession. Keeping track of questions and their answers will also serve as a good record of your learning over the course of your internship.

4. Get Contact Information

You mean to say your coworker is a Brown University Alum and that just so happens to be your top choice school? Get their contact information! Write it down! Ask this person questions about Brown. Write that down too! Even if this person isn’t an alum of your top school, you still can gain valuable insight from anyone in the professional world. You’ll know what kinds of programs can help you on your journey to your ideal career, and also what kinds of people and values those programs cultivate. With all of this personal information in hand, you will be able to tailor any personal statement you want to showcase your most relevant qualities and experiences.

Though it may not seem like the most glamorous summer, having an internship is a privilege and it’s your opportunity to get your feet wet in the sea of professionalism. So, make observations, ask questions, and take notes. Good luck and we really hope you don’t end up being one of those interns that just make coffee!

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