Boss Up: 10 Internship Tips to Help Black Professionals Succeed

Black woman sitting down on couch and on the computer laughing

If you’re trying to land your first internship, or have officially secured one, you have to be ready to kill it! An internship is a huge step forward as you start that career grind. But, we all know starting something new can be scary. We want you, our Black professionals, to use these tips, do your best, prove your worth, and hopefully secure the bag on your next internship. As a Black professional that means, honing your internship skills and leveraging the right tips so you can be the best.

Internships can level up into a whole job if you do it right! There are lots of different things you can do to make the most of your time as an intern, and flip it into the first step in your career. If you’re a Black professional looking for some internship tips, we got you. 

Do Your Research

Whether you’re preparing for an interview or have already landed the job, it’s a good idea to do some research before you start. Make sure you get the low down on the company you’re working for, and the industry it’s in, so you can walk in prepared. 

  • What does your company do? 
  • What are their products? 
  • Who is their target audience? 
  • Who is their competition? 

Answering these questions can help you walk into your new job confident and ready to contribute. Once you know the basics, keep staying informed. Follow blogs, websites, even magazines related to the industry you’re in, so you know what’s going on in your field. Your boss will definitely be impressed.

Set Some Goals

When you walk into your new role, set some goals for yourself. What do you want to get out of the internship? What skills do you want to work on? What do you want to learn? What are your goals as a Black professional? What tips or information can help you nail the internship? If there’s a specific skill you want to level up in, meet with your supervisor and let them know! It will help you get the most out of your time, and show that you have a killer work ethic.

Network with Coworkers

It’s all about the connections. Networking is the most important thing you can do when you enter a workplace for the first time, especially an internship. Find time to meet and bond with your coworkers. Get to know them, make some friends, and let them know what you want to do in your career. You’ll be surprised how many people will be interested in adding you to their network, and help you out when you need it.

When you walk into your new role, set some goals for yourself. What do you want to get out of the internship? What skills do you want to work on? What do you want to learn? If there’s a specific skill you want to level up in, meet with your supervisor and let them know! It will help you get the most out of your time, and show that you have a killer work ethic.

Stay Organized

It’s important to be on your a-game when you’re an intern. There’s no room for laziness! Be sure to stay organized and on top of your work. Keep a calendar or agenda with project due dates, always come to work on time, and keep your workspace tidy. Staying organized is an easy way to both impress the people you’re working with and get your work handled. 

Find a Mentor

mentor is an amazing connection to make at the early stages of your career. (We at BPTN know that better than anyone.) There’s no better time than an internship to find someone to be your guide. If there’s a higher up in your company you admire, reach out! Invite them for a coffee or lunch to ask for advice and pick their brain. If you vibe well, they may turn into a career mentor for life.

Ask For Feedback

It’s normal to wonder how well you’re doing. You don’t have to stay in the dark! If you’re not sure about your work performance, the best thing you can do is ask. Check in with your supervisor and see what they think, and figure out if you need to switch  some things up to get back on track. It might feel intimidating, but they’ll be impressed by your confidence and dedication to doing your job well.

Track Your Success

If you do something you’re proud of, write it down! Maybe you made big improvements to a program, or were particularly successful at a certain task. Keep track of these milestones to use later. These notes can be super useful when filling out future job applications or resumes. Specific examples of things you did successfully in a past role  is a great way to flex in a future job interview or on a resume.

Secure a Letter of Recommendation

In the beginning of your internship, you should ask your supervisor if they can give you a letter of recommendation before you go. These can be great when applying to grad school or other internships. When you ask, don’t automatically go for the person with the most senior role. You may think a letter from the CEO will look the best, but they might not be able to talk about the things you’re great at the way a supervisor could. Ask the person who can talk you up the best.

Stay in Touch

Try to find ways to stay in touch with the people you’ve met. A strong network will help you as you move into the early stages of your career. Before your internship ends, don’t be afraid to ask coworkers and supervisors for their email, or even connect with them on LinkedIn. It could lead to future career endorsements, or help you when you need a recommendation for a future interview.