How to Stand Out During an Internship: Tips from an Employer

"Students meet with recruiters from more than 25 national and regional arts, entertainment and media employers based in the DC metro region at the Arts in the Real World Internship and Career Fair. Photo by Evan Cantwell/George Mason University"

Your student may be completing and internship or working in a job this summer that he or she hopes will lead to future employment and open doors for networking opportunities. In order to help your student prepare to stand out and make the most of his or her summer experience, we wanted to share some tips and advice straight from an employer.

Below is advice for leveraging an internship or professional experience from a current Mason employer who works as the Director of Talent Acquisition in the Information technology industry.

What is the most important piece of advice families can provide their students when they begin an internship?
Encourage your student to be professional, be respectful, be on time, dress the part, and never be afraid to ask questions! Internships are a great way for your student to learn the profession. If there is a staff member that your student does not work directly with, but is interested in their type of work, your student can ask to shadow them for a day as long as the supervisor approves it. Your student should be excited to take advantage of exploring a potential future profession!

What is one common mistake interns make during the first week?
The most common mistake that I have seen interns make that are also the most difficult to make up for in the future are:

  • Being late
  • Being too talkative (using a cell phone too much)
  • Not taking the internship or the work seriously

What are characteristics of a successful intern?

  • Professionalism
  • Being attentive and engaged
  • Being a good listener and following directions
  • Be proactive-seek out work, opportunities to grow and learn

How can students leverage their contacts after the internship has ended?
It is important to stay in contact with a supervisor or colleague, because you never know how they can assist your student during his or her next internship, or better yet, the next job. Your student should think of an internship as training for a future position. Employers are more likely to hire an intern who was exposed to a company culture and systems over someone without that valuable experience.

We hope these tips help you encourage your student to make the most of an internship experience. For more information about internships and services offered through University Career Services, visit

Carolyn Kleiman
Career Counselor
University Career Services