Internships are full of obstacles both big and small, but one of the trickiest things in an internship isn’t something you can simply work past. It’s evaluating your level of success. I don’t mean the number of projects you’ve worked on or how many friends you’ve made, although those can be important in other ways. What I mean by “evaluating your success” is “figuring out how good you actually are at your job, from your supervisor’s perspective”, but that’s a little wordy.
In the first couple weeks of my internship it was hard for me to tell if the work I was doing was actually up to par or not. I was completing my tasks to the best of my ability, but unlike with college courses I wasn’t getting any grades to base my next attempts off of. Over time though I’ve found two strategies that work well together to help me get that crucial feedback.
- Review your work with a coworker.
- Directly ask for feedback
Neither of these are groundbreaking pieces of advice, but what makes them important is that not doing either can result in you not receiving any feedback at all. Articles from the PRSSA and Linkedin both speak to the importance of these moves, but I’ll sum it up here:
1- Going over your work directly with a coworker allows you to ask more targeted questions, and can prevent them from, while alone, simply skimming your work and shooting it back to you with a “looks good champ.” Also, building this kind of mentor relationship will make it easy to get consistent feedback in the future.
2- While it is important to be tactful in the office, that does not mean hinting at the fact that what you really want is for someone to be honest with you about the quality of your work. Instead of saying something like “What did you think of my last report,” it is far more effective to say something like “What should I change about my last report.”
Coworkers often have something to share, you just have to initiate correctly!