How to Become a Star Intern

Life as an intern is not a bed of roses – you have to prove yourself despite your inexperience. Here are some tips on how you can shine during your internship!
Jasmine Mun_Writer_gradmalaysia_round
Jasmine Mun
Writer, gradmalaysia
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As you know, your internship may be the start of a long-standing career in your preferred industry. You’ll want to use this opportunity to develop yourself as a professional who delivers quality work with a great attitude, that way you’ll make the most out of your experience and increase your chances of getting hired upon graduation. Here are 6 ways in which you can stand out during your internship period.

Put in The Effort

  • Demonstrate to your supervisors that you can handle your responsibilities by working hard and smart in completing the tasks assigned to you
  • At times this may mean you have to hustle overtime unpaid, or even odd hours. As long as it’s not a daily occurrence, sailing through extra hours shows you’re dedicated to your role. 
  • Although an intern’s pay is usually meagre, the experience gained helps you learn a lot more about yourself professionally and puts you in better stead for future work stints, including a potential conversion to a full-time hire.

Embrace Challenges

  • Set out to accomplish all the tasks assigned to you and more. It’s important to not rest on your laurels, but instead look for work to do – that’s if you don’t already have a lot on your plate.
  • Keep a lookout for areas where you can contribute and take the initiative to propose new ideas and assignments with your manager.
  • If you find your tasks at hand a little too easy, don’t be afraid to request for more challenging ones. You want to show your co-workers and supervisor that you’re able to handle bigger projects which makes you a high-level intern.

Solve and Minimise Problems

  • If you’re faced with an issue at your task, try to solve them on your own before approaching anyone as this shows your ability to be self-sufficient, independent and have problem-solving skills.
  • However, never feel embarrassed to request help from your co-workers or supervisors when you are in doubt or need any clarification.
  • If you encounter a roadblock, rather than just presenting questions, come up with a few solutions to allow your supervisor or colleague to decide on the best course of action. For example,

“I am having difficulty contacting candidate A for an interview. What should I do?

I’d suggest dropping them an email to notify them of their interview time and date, and if there’s no reply in 5 days, I will consider the candidate a no-show. What do you think?”

Learn from Your Mistakes and Seek Feedback

  • Don’t expect to sail through your internship without making any mistakes. In fact, you should be worried if there are zero comments made by your supervisor on your work – if this happens, remember to ask for feedback.
  • Learn to face your mistakes and do not brush them under the carpet. Accepting your errors and learning from them are crucial and commendable skills to have in the workforce.
  • Asking for feedback from your supervisor and colleagues is the easiest way to find out if you’re doing well in your role, and how else you can improve yourself professionally.
  • Weekly feedback sessions will help you monitor your progress and development as an intern, and will come in handy when you have to write a report to summarise your experience.

Bond Well with Your Team

  • Make sure to learn something from your network of professional contacts.
  • Develop good relationships with your colleagues so that you can work on projects together with efficiency and enjoyment; companies want interns who are team players and can bond well with their existing employees.
  • The ability to mingle and interact with people of different dynamics across a team is key to your professional growth.

Keep Track of Your Projects

  • Start a list of all of the projects you have worked on so that you can discuss your progress with your supervisor.
  • It will also help you remember everything you’ve worked on to update your résumé, add to a portfolio, or talk about in future job interviews.
  • Ask if you can keep examples of projects you have worked on for a portfolio. Remember that some of this information will be confidential, so always get approval before taking any copies of work with you.


It should be obvious by now that a star intern is one who takes charge of his or her own learning, takes the initiative in getting things done, and actively seeks to solve problems. This intern is also a valued contributor on the team, instead of someone who needs hand-holding.

Go the extra mile to prove yourself, and if you are the right fit for the role, you might just get converted after your internship to a full-time hire!