I think I can speak for most college students when I say that this summer was not a typical one. Instead of my original plan to live with friends and work at an apparel group in NYC, I found myself unemployed and living with my parents. I tried to keep myself busy with online summer courses and hobbies such as yoga and baking. However, I still felt unfulfilled. 

At the end of June, I was referred to apply to Next Great Step for their first-ever marketing intern position. After reading the job description, I noticed that the requirements lined up perfectly with my past experience working in PR and brand marketing. In addition, I have always had an interest in learning more about HR and talent acquisition and I felt as if Next Great Step’s method would give me insight into the mind of an employer….so I applied. I did my research on the company, I thoroughly read their blogs to get an understanding of their programs, and demonstrated my skills that would add value to their company. I was hired on the spot. 

For any student or grad who finds themselves stuck wondering how to best succeed during their internships, here are five things that I have learned this summer: 

Stay organized 

There was a quick turnaround between my interview and the start date. I realized immediately that in order to effectively maximize my time and my colleagues’ time, organization was critical. Google Drive was my saving grace this summer–it should not be underestimated. My job entailed a lot of content creation, in terms of both copy and images, and since I was the first intern at the company, there was not a set place to keep all of this content. Thus, the “Summer 2020” folder was born. In this folder, I created documents for everything – including a content calendar for socials, images, and research spreadsheets. Each document had a place, and I could share it all with the team effortlessly. Not only did all of the documents stay organized, but it also allowed me to stay on top of my own assignments for the week. 


I was the first and only person in my role which meant that there was a lot to get done during my time at the company. I was fortunate enough that my boss empowered me to prioritize my projects on my own. We agreed to meet once a week via zoom with the sole purpose to discuss assignments from the previous week and create a new plan of action for the week ahead.

I created weekly “agendas” to keep us on track. I quickly learned that it is important, to be honest with yourself about what you can handle. It is better to get fewer things done to your best ability than to bite off more than you can chew and submit sub-par work. 

Your opinions are valuable 

It can be intimidating to be a young person in the workforce and it’s easy to view yourself as the “low man on the totem pole.” That was not my experience at all. I was lucky enough to be encouraged to share my honest opinions on everything. From outsourced content to Next Great Step programming. Not only was this supported but my perspective actually provided value to the company.

As a current college student, I was able to give the point-of-view of the client, and many times my colleagues would turn to me to review lesson plans and worksheets. The moral of the story is; don’t be afraid to respectfully give honest feedback and voice concerns. It might be an asset. 

Stay connected 

The connections that I have made at Next Great Step will not end when I return to Boston for school. I have made it clear to the team that I look forward to the possibility of helping out with occasional projects that may come up this semester and beyond. Not to mention with graduation approaching, I know that I will need to utilize the power of networking to obtain future career-enhancing opportunities. I am grateful for the relationships that I have made this summer and I hope to preserve and build upon them in the future. 

Use every opportunity to learn

My internship granted me access to Next Great Step’s services including all of their workbooks, powerpoints, and even group coaching sessions. In addition to using this information to create content, this opportunity taught me so much about myself and my own career path. I learned interview tips and market trends, received personalized feedback on my LinkedIn profile and resume, and received a better understanding of my value as an employee.

My job required me to subscribe to major thought leaders, filling my inbox and Linkedin feed with a blend of information, advice, and encouragement. It is important to take advantage of these opportunities and look beyond the basic job requirements to learn more about your industry or market as a whole. I am walking away from this internship with not just marketing experience, but also specific educational tools that will enhance my career in the long run. 

Remember, your internship is what you make of it. 

Thank you to Beth and the Next Great Step Team for such an educational and constructive summer experience.

Leah Otner, Northeastern University, Class of 2022

If you would like to learn more about how we help students and grads land the internship or job they deserve, contact us at 973-577-6161 or schedule a complimentary consultation HERE.