Key Qualities of a Good Internship

A young man working as an intern for an experienced tailor.
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Many students looking for internship opportunities are looking for great internship opportunities. You can improve your chances of finding the right internship for you by setting some goals for yourself, and understanding what good internship really looks like.

Key Takeaways

  • To make the most of an internship understand your goals, and the goals your employer has for you.
  • Mentorship is a great way to fast-track your professional growth, and should be something you look for in an internship.
  • A good internship will allow to network both within and without the organization, which can give you a leg up in your job search after college.

Internship Goals: Yours and Your Employers

A great internship provides the knowledge and skills you'll need to become successful in a specific career field. The best internship experiences are those that prepare students for the work they hope to do after graduating from college. Employers seek employees who have the experience required to start out in a new field.

Employers also welcome new employees who have already had exposure to the field and understand the type of work they will be doing once they are hired. Employers spend a great deal of time and money on training their new employees, and they know that they can eliminate a lot of this time by hiring someone with previous knowledge and experience.

The Importance of Mentorship

Interns who are teamed up with a mentor within the company are most likely the ones who will best learn about the organization’s culture. Your mentor may also be in a position to help you be recognized by senior management. Ultimately, a strong mentor will help you identify career goals, along with some coaching on the day-to-day.


Mentorship helps interns understand the business and the career, and just as importantly, mentorship helps the mentor develop leadership skills, and deepen their own understanding of the business.

In addition to the knowledge and skills employers look for in new candidates, people who get along and understand the organization’s culture are often seen as top candidates for any full-time jobs that open up. Often employers feel that they can teach the basics of an entry-level job, but they can’t teach a new employee how to fit into a culture that’s already been established.

Making Professional Connections

Internships that provide opportunities to meet a large number of professionals currently working in the field give students the chance to make important professional connections that can last a lifetime.

Since networking is a sound job search strategy, the chance to meet professionals both in and outside of the organization where you're interning can be most valuable as you begin your job search as you get closer to graduation. Take the opportunity to discuss your future goals with professionals in the field in hopes of including them in your own personal network.

Additional Benefits and Perks

Internships that pay well and offer benefits and perks are often seen as dream internships that everyone strives for. There are many organizations that pay interns well, in addition to offering them some benefits that full-time employees have, including health and dental. Some organizations offer a variety of perks, too, such as concert tickets, networking receptions, gym memberships, and more.


An organization that offers attractive benefits and perks to its interns likely also offers great benefits to its employees, which may be a consideration when your job search begins.

The Bottom Line

By creating internship and individual career goals, you will be able to find the right internship for you. One person's perfect internship is usually not the same for others who have their own set of personal goals and expectations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the characteristics of the most successful internships?

According to NACE, an organization that matches college career services with professional recruiters, the key characteristics of successful internships include real work assignments for interns, clear orientation and handbooks, housing and relocation assistance, a showcase for intern work, and exit interviews.

What will make your internship a success?

The University of California, Berkley career center boils internship success down to four key tasks for the intern: Be easy to work with; communicate clearly and kindly; learn workplace culture and norms; leave on a good note.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. NACE. "15 Best Practices for Internship Programs."

  2. SHRM. "Should You Create an Internship Program?"

  3. Indeed. "Intern Salary in the United States."

  4. University of California, Berkeley: Career Center. "Tips for Internship Success.'

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