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by Vault Education Editors | June 11, 2009


If done right, an internship is a great opportunity to launch a career. Internships are a great way to test drive a career, figure out if a workplace culture is right for you, and get a TON of hands-on experience you won't get in a classroom.

In our annual College Career Bible, Vault offers some advice for how to make the most of your internships. Be there first, we say, so that you can meet your co-workers and managers before everyone else and get dibs on the best projects--and desks. Networking is another big to-do; talk to the higher-ups about their experiences and what they do, even if they aren't in your assigned department. And, finally, don't complain if you're stuck getting coffee and making copies because whining is a surefire way to make sure you'll be doing it all summer long.

Our advice is universal, applicable in almost every internship program, no matter what industry or employer. But what if you need something a little more specific? Government internships, for example, are competitive, prestigious and great experience for aspiring politicos. According to our Vault Guide to Capitol Hill Careers, an internship is "the best way to begin a career in Washington, D.C." So it's important not to make a bad impression. Following our Career Bible advice will help, but navigating an internship in D.C. seems to be its own beast. Lucky for you, dcist, a blog about goings-on in Washington, D.C., has some advice for new interns on the Hill called "How Not to Be Here are a few choice tidbits:

2. You are never going to out-drink a Hill staffer or a lobbyist

3. Don't hook up with co-workers or fellow interns [ed. OK, this one is also pretty universal.]

A Vault insider and former D.C. resident confirms the relevancy of dcist's advice. She also recommends checking out Spotted: DC Summer Interns, a blog "dedicated to those DC residents who dread intern season." Clearly, the "Spotted" interns are those interns. And you don't want to be him or her.

So, current interns, former interns and anyone who's hired an intern before, what's your advice?


Filed Under: Education|Grad School