Monday, December 1, 2014

Is There a Formula for the Perfect Intern?

“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark”

During orientation, my Internship Director provided the class with this powerful quote.  My director also told us to think about the internship as a 10 month long job interview.  This really got me thinking about what qualities and characteristics make up a successful intern.  With only a few weeks at each rotation, I realized just how important it would be to make the best impression possible with my preceptors and coworkers. 

Since beginning the rotation at the end of August, these past 3 months have flown by.  In this short period of time, I have had the opportunity to rotate through 6 of my rotations including: Prince George’s County Agency on Aging, Dining Services, DC Central Kitchen, Food Supplement Nutrition Education (FSNE), International Food Information Council (IFIC), and the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP). 

With nearly half of my rotations under my belt, I have come to realize that certain characteristics are essential if one wishes to be a successful intern.  So, what is the formula for a successful intern?  Two key components contribute to this formula:


The fast-paced nature of a dietetic internship makes it extremely important for an intern to be adaptable and maintain flexibility in these ever changing environments.  My rotation with FSNE required me to be flexible in many ways.  Each day’s schedule was different and required me to travel to many locations throughout Maryland and meet with a variety of nutrition educators. Being flexible helps to minimize stress and increase efficiency when working on projects and assignments. 

While it is important for adapting to changes, flexibility is also an essential part of adapting to the different personalities and work habits at each rotation.  Each of my 6 rotations so far have been very different from one another and required me to utilize different skill sets.  By tailoring my actions and behaviors to the particular environment I am working in, I am able to show my preceptors that I am capable of working as part of a diverse team. 


Thinking of the internship as a 10 month long job interview, self-motivation is one of the most distinguishable characteristics an employer would be looking for when hiring. Impress your preceptors by showing them that you can get work done in a timely and professional manner with little supervision.  Listening carefully and asking questions has helped me understand my preceptor’s expectations and stay on top of my assignments.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask if you can get involved with a project that you are interested in.  If something sparks your interest, see if there is any way you can help out.  This shows that you are truly interested in gaining a better understanding of what each rotation has to offer.  With numerous interns going through each of the rotations, it is easy for your preceptor to forget a lot about you.  However, if you work hard and stay motivated, you will be more likely to stand out from the crowd. 

Although there is not one perfect formula or equation for being the perfect intern, remember to stay positive and put 110% effort into everything you do.  Make the most out of any situation and don’t hesitate to get involved!  

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