Internship Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Internships can be an incredible learning experience but you will only get out of the opportunity as much as you put into it. Many interns learn this lesson the hard way and leave at the end of summer with regrets. That doesn’t have to be you! Just avoid the following common intern mistakes to ensure a worthwhile, regret-free internship.

  • Failing to ask questions or ask for more work. Asking questions is a great way to show your supervisors that you are really trying to learn and want to make the most out of your internship. Never be afraid to ask a question if you are confused about a task. Also, if you run out of work, don’t assume it’s just free time to browse Facebook or Instagram on your phone. Ask for something more to do! Actively seeking more work is very impressive and will help you stand out among other interns.
  • Getting frustrated or complaining about being bored. Most internships start slow and will build as employers begin to get a sense of your capabilities. You may wonder how being exceptional at photocopying and errand-running impacts your ability to do higher-level work. However, if you excel at the smaller tasks and don’t complain, you have a better chance of getting assigned more interesting tasks you can add to your portfolio.
  • Neglecting to network. As an intern, it is crucial to establish key relationships that can assist you in learning over the course of your internship. Take advantage of any down time to start conversations with co-workers and learn about their careers and get good advice. Never think, “I’m just an intern.” You are now a part of the team and it is important to make yourself known.
  • Dressing inappropriately. If it appears like you’re dressing for a class rather than a job, you’ll give off the vibe that you don’t take your internship seriously. Pay attention to how the higher-ups in your office dress and mirror their level of formality.
  • Leaving without a trace. Before your internship is over, make your mark by giving hand-written thank-you notes to all of your co-workers. Schedule time with your boss to sit down and discuss future employment opportunities and a recommendation letter.

Internships have become a crucial and necessary stepping-stone for college students across the country. In today’s competitive society, it is imperative that you take the experience seriously and avoid mistakes that could hinder this amazing learning opportunity.

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Managing Two Internships

By Jessica Leano

What seemed like 200 internship applications later, I finally read the words every college student longs to see. “We’d like to offer you a position for the summer.” After several stressful weeks of trying to find an internship in California, I landed a position as a production intern with a small non-profit radio broadcasting company.

As a transfer student from a public university where most students don’t do an internship, I wanted to get all the experience I could out of my last summer in college. In addition to my radio internship, I also applied for a marketing internship, and was hired at a loan management company.

Every college student knows that multitasking is a necessity, and working two jobs similarly requires careful time management. Here are my tips for balancing two internships at once.

1.    Establish a set schedule.

Before flying out to California, I discussed my availability with both of my supervisors. To demonstrate that I was equally committed to both positions, I negotiated my hours early on. Having a solid schedule also helped me set goals for completing assignments and plan out my work for each day. I also worked more effectively having less time at one job than the other interns.

2.    Find connections between your internships.

Inevitably, schedule conflicts come up. With my marketing position, I was invited to attend an email-marketing seminar on one of the days I would be at my other job.

After speaking with my supervisor at the radio internship, I found that both companies use the same email-marketing vendor. When I asked for the day off to attend the seminar, I assured my boss that I would take good notes and share the information, as well as make up any missed work on the weekend.

3.    Talk regularly with both supervisors, and make both sites feel important.

Several times, I found myself having to resolve issues at one company while physically at the other. I do not recommend being glued to your cell phone while at work, but in cases where coworkers urgently need your help; make sure they are able to reach you by email or phone.

Fortunately, my co-workers at both companies were always flexible and understanding anytime I needed to step out and make a phone call. If you treat both jobs equally, your supervisors will know that you are a dedicated worker, not just prioritizing one position over the other.

  1. Get plenty of rest when you can.  Two internships can be demanding so you can’t stay up late and expect to be on top of your game the next day.  You want to be eager and enthusiastic at both sites.

Although I never planned on doing two internships at once, and didn’t think it would even be plausible, I came back to Elon with not only two more jobs to list on my resume, but experience working in two different areas of communications.  And, I returned to school much more confident in my abilities, both in and outside of my concentration. I would encourage aspiring interns to explore all their options and, if possible, to take on more than one job. Two jobs mean more work, but also double the career advice and double the lunches with coworkers!

Below are links to two articles about how to handle two internships at once!

“To Double dip or not”

“A Tale of two internships”

Why it Pays to Be Unpaid

By Amanda Parker

If I were to ask every person reading this if they would rather have a paid or unpaid internship, I’m sure, most (if not all) would choose having a paid internship. And that’s great! Paid internships are awesome. But, the realities of internships are – most are unpaid. Now, we could all be upset that we’re working for free, OR we could look at the positives that come from unpaid internships… So let’s do that!

Positive # 1: You’re most likely receiving credit for your internship, which is a graduation requirement for the School of Communications. So, you may not be getting paid, but you’re checking boxes off of your course-work to do list!

Positive # 2: Freedom!  It’s nice when you don’t have the pressure of being on the pay roll. So, take initiative and ask for more work and more responsibility. What do you have to lose? If you ask for more tasks and show your dedication to your internship, your supervisors and co-workers will take notice; and they may even give you more freedom and bigger projects.

Positive # 3: When you reach your goals, you’ll be so proud! Work hard and reap the benefits. If you aren’t being paid for your work, it’s natural that you might start feeling lazy or unimportant at your internship. Instead, try getting extra motivated – because nothing feels better than accomplishing something without an extrinsic reward, and knowing you did it well! Set goals before starting your internship and track your success in accomplishing them throughout your internship.   It’s a great time to learn new skills!

Positive # 4: You’ll gain confidence, new mentors and work for your e-portfolio. Take the time at your unpaid internship to build relationships with people in the office and ask for feedback. Using your internship as a time to fine-tune your networking style is vital for when you’re in the actual working world. This is your chance to ask for help and ask for feedback on your work.  So, when you leave your internship, you’ll have work to add to your e-portfolio and contacts who can help you later. All of this will increase your confidence in future work endeavors.

You can pout and stomp your feet all you want if your internship is unpaid; instead, try looking on the bright side! You have the rest of your life to make money; use unpaid internships as learning experiences that will help you in the long run. The truth of the matter is un-paid internships are much more common and easier to find than paid ones. Take it from me, someone who’s had three unpaid internships, you will survive! If necessary, ask your internship site if they will let you be part-time so you can pick up a paying job. Don’t be discouraged. Prove to your internship site you’re a hard worker, and maybe in the future – they will pay you.  It happens!

How to Find an Internship Abroad


“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – Unknown

One of the greatest aspects about Elon (in my opinion) is the importance placed on internships and studying abroad. Living in another country is a transformative experience that allows you to become a part of another culture. In addition to studying abroad, you also have the opportunity to intern abroad. Interning abroad is a fantastic way to get experience in your desired career field while working in a new environment with a diverse group of people.

So, thinking about interning overseas? Awesome! Now, you may ask yourself: Where do I begin to look for an internship abroad?

Explore Trade Associations
Trade Associations, also known as industry trade groups, are comprised of numerous companies in the same market of business with common interests. Trade associations work to create industry standards and publicize the interests of the industry. To utilize trade associations for the purpose of obtaining an internship, go to the website of a trade association that interests you, such as the Public Relations Society of America ( There you will find a list of companies within this trade association to contact about potential internships.

Research U.S. companies with international offices
Interning in another country doesn’t necessarily require you to work for a foreign company. Countless U.S. based companies have offices all over the world. Search U.S. companies to see where their international offices are located.

Search internship websites
There are many sites which cater to students finding internships abroad. Below are a few sites to check out:

Utilize LinkedIn
LinkedIn is an amazing social networking resource that allows users to connect with professionals all over the world. With more than 225 million users in over 200 countries and territories, you literally have the world right at your fingertips. Use your profile and link with professionals locally and globally to learn about prospective internship opportunities. Don’t be afraid to reach out and put yourself out there. So, update your status to let folks know you’re looking for an international internship. You may be surprised at the response and who can help you.

Utilize alumni
Not only should you be connecting with professionals on LinkedIn, but alumni are another great resource to help you in landing an internship. Elon also offers many fun networking events to connect with alumni in the area, so take advantage of these when possible.

How to Properly Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Applying for an internship is an exciting, yet time consuming task. You’ve spent countless hours researching prospective internships, and polishing your résumé and cover letter. To finalize your application, you are required to provide potential internships with a letter of recommendation from a professor. The question is: how do you properly go about asking a professor to write you a letter of recommendation?

Here are a few steps to follow to appropriately obtain the best possible letter of recommendation.

Be prompt and ask early 
Professors have busy lives as well and shouldn’t need to drop everything in order to write you a recommendation. Allow at least three weeks before the recommendation needs to be received for your professor to write you a well thought out and honest recommendation.

Ask the right professor
One of the most important aspects in asking for your letter of recommendation is asking the right person. Ask a professor who knows your accomplishments and capabilities. As a reminder, don’t ask a relative or close family friend.  If a professor declines to write you a recommendation letter, it’s ok! Don’t panic or push it.

Ask in person
Asking your professor in person will only work towards your advantage. This will show your professor how much his/her letter of recommendation means to you. If you are unsuccessful in reaching him/her during office hours, you may want to email your professor and schedule an appointment.

Provide the appropriate materials
When asking your professor, make sure to provide him/her with all the necessary materials in order to write your letter of recommendation. This may include, but is not limited to a letter of recommendation form, your résumé, a pertinent writing sample (one from that professor’s class) and any additional required information that will help your professor to write the best possible letter of recommendation.  Don’t forget to provide your professor with the due date for your letter, too.

Don’t be afraid to follow up
We are all human and it is possible for professors to forget about the letter. Approximately a week or so before the due date, you may want to send your professor a friendly email thanking him/her for writing your letter and reminding him/her of the upcoming deadline.

Send a handwritten thank you note
Always thank the professor for his/her time spent writing your letter. Although a thank you email is suitable, a handwritten note is much more thoughtful and memorable.

Keep your professor updated
Be sure to keep your professor updated on your internship offers and final decision.

Final reminder
If for any reason you no longer need the letter of recommendation, contact your professor and let him/her know immediately.

For more advice on how to ask for a letter of recommendation, refer to these websites below:


Dining on the Internship: The Do’s and Don’ts of Business Dining Etiquette

Dining on the internship/job is just another way for employers to see how you behave in a social setting. So whether you’re going to lunch with a few of your coworkers or dining with your boss, it’s important to remember to always conduct yourself professionally and properly. To be successful in your internship, your dining etiquette during a business meal must match your office etiquette.

Here are some guidelines and tips to make the best impression possible at your next business meal.
• If you’re dining with people you have never met before, make sure to introduce yourself and shake everyone’s hand present at the table
• Remain standing until your host/boss has been seated
• Place your napkin in your lap only after the host/boss has done so
• Follow your host’s lead when ordering and make sure to avoid ordering messy foods like spaghetti
• Whether you’re of the legal age or not, it’s smart to avoid drinking alcohol during a business meal. However if for some reason you must drink, limit yourself to only one glass

• During the meal, make sure to sit up straight and keep your feet flat on the floor
• When passing a bread basket, offer it to the person on your left and pass it to the person on your right
• Only cut one piece of food at a time
• When you aren’t using your silverware, place it back on your plate
• When talking with others at your table, make eye contact and never speak with a full mouth
• If you must leave the table during the meal, place your napkin in your seat

• When you are finished with your meal, place your knife and fork in the center of your plate turned to the four o’clock position
• Once you get up from your seat, gently place your napkin on the table in front of your chair
• If the host or boss insists on paying for your meal, politely thank them and don’t argue over the check
• Always thank your host/boss for the meal before leaving and to show your appreciation, write a handwritten note within the next day or so

• When in doubt of what utensil to use, always work from the outside in
• When eating soup, always scoop away from yourself to avoid spills
• If you don’t want coffee, simply turn the cup upside down on its plate
• Always pass the salt and pepper together
• No matter how hungry you may be, take your time eating and match the pace of the people you’re dining with
• Don’t ask for a takeout bag; you don’t want to stink up someone’s car or the office

For more advice on business dining etiquette, refer to these websites below:


Networking to Find Your Ideal Internship

Still looking for a great internship? Don’t forget to take advantage of networking. There are a variety of tools Elon Communications students have at their fingertips that could help them network to their dream internship.

Here are a few steps to follow in order to make sure that you’re networking efficiently:

1. Build a list of contacts: Make sure you use every resource that Elon has made available to you in order to meet alumni with exciting opportunities. These resources include the Elon Mentor Network, the Communications Internship Office, TGIF (Three Great Internship Fridays) this spring, and more! To learn more about these networking opportunities, visit the links provided at the end of this article.

2. Conduct an informational interview: An informational interview with a communications professional is a wonderful way to get valuable insight about an organization, the field you are pursuing, and to learn how to best apply for an internship. It’s also a great way to get your foot in the door.

3. Create an Elevator Speech: It’s important that you know how to sell yourself on a whim. Prepare a 30-60 second speech about yourself, your previous experience and your professional aspirations. You never know when you might meet someone who could help you. To learn more about how to craft an elevator speech, visit:

4. Show Appreciation: Make sure you write a nice “Thank You” note to whatever contacts you make. It’s important to acknowledge the time that someone has taken out of her busy schedule, or to thank her if she has provided a reference/contact information.

5. Keep in Touch: Once you initially network with someone, make sure you touch base with her every once in a while. You can just drop a line or two to say hello, provide a progress update on a project or relevant experience, or check in to see how their project worked out. It’s important not to be too persistent with someone who is willing to help, but you don’t want to be a stranger, either.

Networking Tools and Resources:

Elon Mentor Network:
Network with Elon alumni who have agreed to help you connect with professionals. These alumni have asked to be contacted in order to provide advice and contacts. To access the Elon Mentor Network, visit:

Elon Internship Database:
Make an appointment with the Communications Internship Office (112 McEwen) to access a database with the contact information to our previous internship supervisors. These are great connections! To make an appointment, visit: Otherwise, you can stop by with no appointment on Tuesdays from 2:10-4 p.m.

TGIF (Three Great Internship Fridays):
T.G.I.F. is an annual spring event in the Elon School of Communications. Events offered include a speed networking event, internship prep seminars, and more. Make sure you RSVP through the website to attend: