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Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

TIP: Landed the Internship! Now What?

You have been on the interview. You received and accepted the offer. You are excited to start your internship. But wait, you are going to be a professional now. You have so many questions about how to move from being a student to a professional. We have employer guest contributors answering some of your questions. You may want to think about how you want to make a favorable impression this summer.

Watch this video highlighting what Wake Forest employers say you should do to make a favorable impression during your internship.

To learn more, read further for details on making a favorable impression.


CSX logo

Lauren Dealexandris, Director of Intermodal Finance

The surest way to quickly establish credibility and a strong reputation at our company and within our department is to illustrate both relationship development and critical thinking skills. While showing an interest in learning the business and organization is the primary focus when first getting started, it is also critically important to be responsive, thoughtful, and engaged. Ask questions, meet with people, take ownership and show initiative. Challenging appropriately and solving problems with recommendations supported by facts leave an indelible mark. The basic, underlying ability to analyze information, think both tactically and strategically, and identify opportunities for improvement are characteristics that are difficult to teach yet make a significant difference.


Deloitte logo

Liz Hannah, Carolinas Campus Recruiter

Deloitte hires people with the intellect, attention to detail, technical skills and intuitive power required by this profession but what really makes an intern or new hire stand out among their peers is their attitude and professionalism. The individuals who come into Deloitte ready to tackle, and value the experience, of any task, no matter how menial or trivial it may seem, are the ones who truly impress our leaders. Displaying a positive, accommodating demeanor and attitude at all times is powerful and definitely does not go unnoticed.


Red Ventures

Jessica Hensen, Recruiter

Successful interns have a strong intellectual curiosity and strive to gain a deep understanding of our business and culture. They have a can-do attitude and are always willing to try new things. Stand out interns don’t just wait for new projects and opportunities to be given to them, but rather they seek out new opportunities on their own. Interns can bring a fresh perspective to business challenges, so they should feel comfortable giving their opinion and speaking up in meetings. Confidence is an important attribute to have as an intern. If there is an area of the company that you’re interested in, schedule time to speak with someone in that area to learn more.


RAI logo (153x75)

Barbara Carter, Director of Talent Acquisition

The most important thing an intern or a new employee can do to stand out is to be “present” in the organization. This means being on time for the job (better to be early) – this is a given. Showing up late for work gives the perception that you really are not interested in the position. Also being present by being engaged in the learning process by being attentive, asking questions and offering your ideas. Often interns spend more time trying to “network” to get the full-time job offer rather than concentrating on doing the job at hand. If you do a good job and add value during your summer internship you are more likely to get the full time job offer.



Meghan Hayden, HR Functional Development Manager

The best career advice I have received is to under-commit and over-deliver.  This careful balance is sometimes called a Say:Do Ratio, but it really means keep your promises.  In a busy workplace it is easy to sit in meetings and take on action items (“Sure, I’ll take care of that!”), it is much harder to get all of those things done.  I have too often seen enthusiastic new employees, who are eager to impress their managers, take on tasks they don’t have time for or offer up deadlines that are too aggressive.  During your internship you will need to set realistic objectives, but also stretch yourself and demonstrate your engagement and ability to be a team-player.

Here are some tactics to help you keep the right balance:

Ask clarifying questions up front.

  • What will a successful finished product look like?
  • When do you need this?
  • Do you want to review a draft at that time, or a final product?
  • Is there anyone I can speak with if I have questions?

Understand your workload.

  • Keep a running list of your assigned tasks and include status and estimated time to complete. 
  • Talk with your manager or other stakeholders about priorities; don’t assume you know which items are the most critical. 
  • If taking on a new task may interfere with other deliverables, raise the concern. (“This new Project B looks like it will take a lot of time, is it ok if I don’t get Project A to you until next week?”)   


  • If you are running behind, let someone know.  Not delivering on a deadline is usually much worse than setting a more reasonable schedule in the first place.
  • Ask for help when you get stuck.  Don’t get bogged down in trying to solve an unfamiliar problem by yourself, it is better to ask for five minutes of help than spend hours working an issue by yourself.

Above all else, remember that your job is to learn.  Take on assignments that will help your team and grow your experience, and try to learn from every mistake and challenge.

Category: Professional Development

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