How to impress your boss during an internship

By Hillary Mantis

You hope you are making a good impression at work this summer. You want to get an offer, get asked back for the fall, or at least get a really good recommendation. You are getting all of your assignments done. But is that enough?

In this era of competitive hiring, possibly not. I’ve learned during my years of advising people that sitting in your office by yourself and just doing a good job is not always a guarantee of an offer. Perhaps it should be, but it’s not.

What else can you do? Bosses notice a lot, besides your actual work. So see if any of the following suggestions might help you have a more successful summer:

1. Initiate a project: If you are interning or working somewhere and you think of an idea, don’t be afraid to mention it. You might be able to carve out an interesting niche for yourself, and work on something that you actually initiated. It’s a good way to be remembered.

2. Get out of your office and attend events: A mistake that many busy summer interns and associates sometimes make is to spend all of their time in their office. No matter how busy you are, you need to meet people so everyone knows who you are. So stop by that cocktail party, go out to lunch, or join in on the field trip. Gather your courage and introduce yourself to those who you have not met.

3. Limit your time on social media: I know. Your phone is your life. I agree. But resist the urge to leave it out on your desk and check it for texts every two minutes. Or sneak a glance at your friend’s Instagram vacation photos during a meeting. Or leave your computer screen up with your on-line shopping cart displayed. It will unfortunately most likely be noticed.

4. Ask for more work if you are not busy: Whether you are an unpaid intern, or a highly paid summer associate, bosses really appreciate it if you let them know you have time to do more work.

5. Be in early, stay late, and be friendly to all: This seems so obvious, but bosses often come in early and stay late themselves — so they will notice it, and most likely appreciate it if you do too. And there’s always the story every year about the summer associate who wasn’t asked back because he or she was unfriendly to the administrative assistants.

So, be your charming self at work — and while you are there to impress them, don’t forget that they are there to impress you too. Ultimately, you want to find a job that’s a good fit.


Hillary Mantis consults with law students, pre-law students, and lawyers about career and law school admissions issues. She is the author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers, and a Director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University. For more information, you can contact her at