The act of reflecting on an experience has been promoted as a key learning strategy for internship or service learning experiences. Asking a student to keep a journal is a popular technique for stimulating the reflective process. However, journals can turn into diaries – a list of “what I did today”. This document provides specific reflection questions and assignments that can inspire deeper reflection and promote enhanced learning. Not all of these ideas will work for all situations but they can be a starting point for other ideas.
Early in the Internship
- What do you hope to accomplish in this internship? What are your specific goals?
- What are your expectations for this experience?
- What are your initial reactions to your first few days? What are you looking forward to? Is there anything you are disappointed about?
- What is going to be your biggest challenge in this internship?
- Do you feel like you fit in to the organization? Why or why not?
- Learn about the history of the organization.
- Get a copy of the organizational chart and job descriptions within the organization or department.
- Read the entire website of the organization and read relevant marketing materials. If possible ask for an annual report or similar document.
- Ask your supervisor his/her career story.
- If you have identified challenges or disappointments in your initial expectations of your internship, put together an action plan to deal with these.
Middle of the Internship
- What goals have you met so far? What goals do you still need to meet? Have you changed any of your goals?
- How has your perception of the internship/organization changed since you started the internship?
- What steps have you taken to address the challenges and disappointments that you identified in your early journal entries?
- What is surprising you about this internship?
- What have you contributed to the organization?
- What have you done that has made your supervisor’s life easier?
- What have you learned from the routine or boring parts of the internship?
- What do you think are your strongest attributes as an intern?
- What surprises have you had?
- In what ways do you feel like you can improve your performance?
- How are you reacting to a bad day or disappointment? How would you like to react?
- Is your personality a fit for this organization? Do you notice particular personality types working in this industry?
- Identify the most boring or routine activity in this experience and put together a plan for turning it into an opportunity for learning something new.
- Brainstorm with your supervisor for a project or assignment that neither of you had considered before.
- Ask your supervisor for a mid-term performance review.
End of the Internship
- How did you accomplish your goals for this experience?
- What did you learn about yourself through this experience?
- Were your expectations for this experience realistic? Why or why not?
- What was your biggest success in this internship?
- How did you change as a result of this experience?
- What have you done that you didn’t ever think you would be able to do?
- What is the most important thing that your organization does?
- What changes would you make if you had the chance to do this over again?
- What would you do differently in this organization if you were the boss/owner?
- How would you describe your work style based on your behavior at this internship?
- How are you different than you were when you started this experience?
- What was your biggest success or contribution to your organization?
- What did you learn from your challenges in this experience?
- How do you want your supervisor to remember you?
- What recommendations would you give to other students doing an internship at this location?
- Write a summary of your performance from your supervisor’s point of view. What would he/she say about you? Write this in the third person.
- Think about a new career option that you learned about through this organization. Research that career.
- Write a description of the internship or project that can be added to your resume.
- Write a script, make a movie clip or media presentation that summarizes your internship.
- Write a handwritten thank you note to your supervisor and 2 or 3 other people at your internship site that had an impact on you. Keep in touch with these people after your internship ends.