Since simply adding another line on your resume should never, ever be the point of an internship, it's important to make sure you're getting the most out of your experience.
Outline Your Goals and Share Them With Your Boss.
Before you even start your new job, make a list of the things you would like to do and learn during your internship. Bring your list to work on the first day and talk with your boss about what's reasonable for both of you. While designing your own marketing campaign for a major client probably isn't going to work out, chances are your boss will give you ownership on a smaller scale project. Getting on the same page with your boss on Day 1 ensures that you won't have any mid-summer meltdowns about the point of your internship.
Never Act too Good for an Assignment.
Whether you're filing papers or working on a major presentation, be sure to put the same work ethic and enthusiasm into each assignment. As the lowest on the totem pole, chances are you're going to be asked to do some pretty menial tasks, but showing that you're not to good for the small stuff will likely to help you earn the bigger assignments too.
Always Ask for and Gratefully Accept Feedback.
The biggest reason you're an intern is to learn and there is no better way to do that than to hear feedback from your boss(es) and co-workers. During periodic performance reviews and after every major project I asked the people I worked with to let me know what I did well and what I could improve on. Remember that constructive criticism is just that- constructive. Don't take it personally and use it to make yourself a better employee.
Have a Positive Exit.
Though it's easy to do, do not let yourself slack towards the end of your internship. Also, while Thank You cards are a must for everyone you directly worked with, consider bringing in something for the entire department. Depending on office preferences, I've brought in a cookie cake, box of bagels and toppings, and ingredients for homemade parfaits. Finishing strong ensures that your coworkers and supervisors will be likely to write positive recommendation letters and help you out in any way they can.
Use Your Experience to Help You Land Your Next Job.
More on this topic in my next blog, "Internships Keep on Giving: Using your Experience to Advance your Career."
Have internship questions? Send them to me (firstname.lastname@example.org)!