Setting Goals for Your Internship, and Holding Yourself Accountable to Them

02/12/19

As you prepare to start your internship, it’s important to take some time to reflect on what you want to achieve. Maybe you want to hone your soft skills, or develop specific technical skills – or perhaps get better at professional networking.

It’s extremely helpful to set your goals before you begin, so that you can properly plan and make the most out of your internship. Having a clear understanding of what you hope to achieve will make it easier for you to navigate your 12 week placement.

Here are our top tips for setting goals, and holding yourself accountable to them.

Write your goals down

Writing goals down is very important to actually achieving your goals. According to Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, “Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success… and people who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people that don’t.” 

When you write your goals down, make sure you are being specific about what you want to accomplish, and that you’re setting yourself an achievable goal in the given the timeframe. For example, instead of writing “I want to learn something in my internship”, write down, “I want to learn how to prepare income statements and balance sheets in my accounting internship.” The latter is specific, and it is achievable within your 12-week internship timeframe.

In case you missed it, we wrote an entire blog post on how to make your goals SMART goals.

Communicating and accountability

Don’t be shy to share your goals with your placement consultant or your host company mentor. If you’re new to goal setting, they might have ideas about what would be more achievable or measurable. Remember – they’ve got vast experience and have worked with interns for a long time. Use their wisdom and experience – and make the most of it!

Your mentor and placement consultant can help you stay accountable to your goals. Ask your mentor to give you feedback on your progress, and if they think you’re on track.

It’s also important that you continue to revisit your goals during your internship. You might have begun with one goal in mind, but what happens if you start your internship and realise that you want to go in a different direction? By making sure you revisit the goals you wrote down, you can work with your mentor and placement consultant to stay on track, or pivot and change if need be.

If halfway through your internship you realise that you’ve gone off-track, stop and ask yourself why. Taking the time to pause and reflect on what you’ve accomplished so far will help you adjust and determine what you need to do to make progress on your goal for the following 6 weeks.

Measure your progress

Setting and writing down goals also gives you the opportunity to measure your progress in your internship. Your goals provide a self-motivated plan for obtaining new skills, and referring to those goals at the end of your internship will give you perspective on how much you’ve really learned.

If you work hard and dedicate yourself to your goals, you’re more likely to achieve them. They will also give you a clear idea of the growth you’ve experienced during your internship. Then, when you’re updating your resume, writing a cover letter, or interviewing for a new job, you can mention or write about achieving those goals.

Overall, setting goals for your internship is a task that won’t take much of your time, but could benefit you greatly. Think about why this internship is important to your career development, write specific and achievable goals that reflect that, and track your progress so that you get the absolute most you can out of your internship experience.

By Ally Veneris

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