First off – here is a link to the full guide from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Here are a few good points:
1. GET ORGANIZED – Ask your supervisor about the skills you should expect to learn. Ask for a meeting to create a list of learning outcomes; this way, both you and your supervisor know what is expected and there are no miscommunications. The point of an internship is to get a feel for the work and to gain useful experience. If you make coffee, run errands, and pick up dog poo (ok, extreme example) then you aren’t getting the life lessons you deserve. If you are already stuck in an internship much like the one described above, then a 15-minute meeting could really turn things around or set you on the path to finding a new opportunity.
2. REPORT BACK – Find out who you report to and then…. report! Make sure your team knows about your contributions. If you are successful, then excellent. If you need more guidance, they will be able to provide it before you veer too far off track.
3. PLAN YOUR CAREER – Ask co-workers, peers, and network contacts what professional organizations they affiliate with, what parts of the job the like the most, where they plan to move next in their careers, and how they plan to get there. There is no better career advice then someone with the job you want.