As someone who has been a member of two different summer internship programs, I have learned that there is only one factor that determines the “worthwhileness” of an internship—your relationship with your supervisor.
Lucky interns are placed with a stellar supervisor while the unlucky report to supervisors who doom the entire experience before day one. I have not seen a single happy intern who despises his supervisor, and similarly I have yet to meet a disgruntled intern who reveres his supervisor.
A great supervisor is one who realizes that the internship program is not about the host company, but rather about the development of the intern. There is only so much one college student or young graduate can do in two months to advance the mission and vision of an organization. He or she does not have the time or the skill set to make a significant impact. It is for this reason that most interns are considered the low man on the totem pole – more often than not he or she is given little responsibility and relegated to menial tasks like data entry and copying.
That being said, a supervisor can drastically impact the career path of an intern. A great supervisor views the relationship with an intern as a two-way street. He or she rewards the intern’s hard work, dedication, and competency by providing two developmental rewards: timely feedback and exposure to new opportunities.
By receiving constant feedback, an intern is able to learn the rules of engagement of the working world and deliver professional-quality work. Exposure to new opportunities prevents monotony (a major cause of intern dissatisfaction) and illuminates an intern’s next career step.
This summer I have been honored to work at BioEnterprise under Susan Luria. She has gone above and beyond the call of a great supervisor and made my internship a blast. She has assigned me exciting consulting work (meeting with CEOs, compiling market reports, reviewing business plans) and shaped me into a valuable member of the BioEnterprise team by providing me with constant feedback. Moreover, Susan has taken me on two incredible field trips. The first was to a North Coast Angel Fund meeting so that I could gain a better understanding of venture capital funding and the second was to MetroHealth Hospital to become acquainted with MRI and CT equipment for the imaging initiative I am working on. Since day one Susan has been dedicated to making this internship about me.
I want to take a moment to thank the Cleveland Foundation staff for placing me in such a wonderful and prestigious organization with a supervisor who is dedicated to developing her intern. This entire program has been about advancing the careers of Cleveland’s future leaders.
I am saddened that the summer is winding down and this program is coming to an end. To my fellow interns, I wish you all the best. For those of you going back to school or leaving town, please come back soon – Cleveland will not be the same without you, and it could sure use your enthusiasm and leadership.
Each week we use this space to give each of our interns a chance to reflect on their internship experiences. Adam Yasinow, a recent graduate of Washington University in St.Louis, was placed at BioEnterprise.