Internship Success Secrets From an Experienced Engineering Intern

A couple of months ago a sharp, young engineering student, Alec Albright (who I connected with on LinkedIn last year) headed out to start his third internship. It’s scheduled to last a full 8 months.


After learning of his new internship, I wanted to acknowledge his success and say hello, so I sent him this brief LinkedIn message: 

Hey Alec, I see you started a new internship. Hope it’s going well. This past post might help you: Regards, Don

The post I sent him was on a topic that I feel very strongly about: RELATIONSHIPS. In fact, the core information I shared in the post fell under this heading: Five Reasons Interns Should Make Building Relationships a Priority

Alec’s Astute Advice For All Interns

I was very appreciative when Alec sent me a kind reply that included validation of my blog post. However, I was especially pleased (and impressed) with the additional internship advice he offered.

With his permission, the remainder of this post contains the entire LinkedIn message that Alec sent me. I’ve also included a couple of closing thoughts, and some other internship resources for you. Enjoy!

Alec’s Comment About My Post

This was great advice for new interns that I can personally attest to after completing my first couple of internships.

Alec’s Success Secret #1: BE HUMBLE

I want to share with you (for no particular reason) two other pieces of advice that I think are crucial for new interns to hear.

First, new interns need to be humble and not think too highly of themselves (even though receiving an internship is indeed a great accomplishment). It is very easy to feel good about yourself after landing an internship with a great company, but this feeling could lead to an attitude that comes across as arrogance or entitlement.

I can remember how I entered my first internship. I was so excited to be working full-time that I acted as though I had been with the company for years and that I had everything figured out, which clearly was not the case.

Alec’s Success Secret #2: OTHERS ARE WATCHING YOU

My second piece of advice for new interns is to always think about how you’re being viewed by others in the workplace.

As a new intern, people are naturally going to notice your weaknesses before noticing your strengths. As unfair as it sounds, it is usually true. People will also keep a closer eye on your work than that of experienced employees.

This makes it vitally important to work hard and honestly, always acting like someone is watching what you’re doing. Doing this will help others notice your strengths at a quicker rate.

Following these two pieces of advise should put interns in the right frame of mind to have a very successful internship.

My Thoughts

Wow, even though it’s been years since I worked as an intern, I can totally relate to Alec’s ideas. He really nailed the need to be humble. If you act like a “bull in a china shop” who knows it all, you’ll quickly turn off your coworkers and they’ll be far less likely to support you.

I take Alec’s Secret #2 to mean that you need to be honest, be authentic, and always produce quality work. In my experience, if you try to be someone other than yourself, you’ll quickly find yourself in a heap of trouble.

I can’t thank Alec enough for initially sharing his experiences and insights with me, but then also letting me share them here with you. He’s an unselfish and bright guy who I’m confident is going to have an outstanding engineering career after graduation.

More Internship Resources and “Secrets” For You

I tend to write a lot about internships because my five internships with John Deere were life changing. What follows are some other blog posts and a STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE that you may find helpful :

Question: What type of experience do you have as an engineering/STEM intern, and what valuable lessons did you learn?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.



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