The Workplace

Four goal-setting tips

By Colleeen Sabatino, The Intern Coach

How you set your goals often determines if you reach your goals and if you receive credit for your achievement.  Remember that goals change quickly in many companies, so clarify, and clarify, and then clarify again.

Here are our top four tips for goal-setting at your internship:

  1. Get organized. Your internship may not be clearly defined, and you may think the best strategy is to keep your options open and see what happens. But unfortunately you’ll end up with too many choices or goals, which will slow you down from reaching any of them.  Sit down with your supervisor to map your goals early in your internship. Trust your supervisor to give you accurate directions. And always recheck your supervisor’s expectations and goals with him. Emphasize that your goal is to contribute your skills in a way that generates value and substance for the employer.
  2. Be proactive and take part in shaping your assignments and goals, so you’ll be viewed as a key player, who produces quality work. If you’re part of a team, initiate good relationships with the other members, soliciting their advice and opinions. Let them know that you expect to contribute to their success. Adjust your ego to the group, acknowledging that the success achieved will be a collective endeavor, not an individual one. Ask good questions, such as what form of communication do you prefer? How often? How can I be helpful? What else can I do?
  3. Under promise and over deliver. Protect yourself in your new internship by under promising and over delivering. It’s always better to say that the project will take a week and then deliver it in one day. If you feel overwhelmed by your supervisor’s goals or the schedule is unrealistic to you, it’s better to ask your supervisor to prioritize the goals, allowing you to complete them in order. If necessary, reach fewer goals but exceed expectations each time.
  4. Research the goals. Before you rush into setting and meeting goals, spend some time researching them. Collect and evaluate information on the goals. Explore implications and then implement the best solutions to reaching the goals in a timely manner. When you identify problems, clarify them and consider solutions. Then, talk with your team and supervisor on how to proceed. Demonstrating your ability to solve problems makes you a valuable member of a team that reaches its set goals.