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Internship reflection essay

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Need to learn how to write a good intern reflection paper? Use this guide if you’re ever asked to write an internship reflection essay. It’s designed to be relevant for students undertaking internships in any area of study (eg law, medicine)

A typical internship reflection essay needs to demonstrate that:

  • You’ve grown personally/professionally as a result of your work experience;
  • Your reflections on the experience are informed by critical analysis and skill development;
  • You’ve learned something new at the internship;
  • Your reflections on your work/internship experience demonstrate that you’ve taken a reflective approach.

What is a internship reflection paper?

An internship reflection paper is a method of reviewing your internship experience and to highlight the lessons you learned from a particular internship. It can be done at any time after completing an internship, either in real time or after the fact. Reflecting on your internship will help guide your future career and educational path. It will also help you identify and understand real-world scenarios.

This guide uses a sample essay to show how you can structure your own reflection paper on internship experience . Remember that the same framework can be used to write about any internship experience, including study abroad, practicums etc.

The guide will take you through the process of creating an essay that:

  • Is in the correct format,
  • Has required elements,
  • Is organized effectively so it flows well and is easy to read,
  • Contains examples (eg direct quotes) to support your arguments,
  • Uses adequate vocabulary,
  • Shows improvement over time from past writing samples.

Steps for Writing an Effective Internship Reflection Paper

Writing a good internship reflection essay follows this basic formula: Introduction + Body Paragraph #1 + Body Paragraph #2 + Conclusion

Introduction = Title Page + Lead In Sentence (1-3 sentences)

The first two body paragraphs need to: Have topic sentences in the first sentence; Discuss one aspect of your internship; The third body paragraph should discuss another aspect of your internship. (You can discuss three different aspects if you want, just bear in mind that readers don’t always have a long attention span!)

Conclusion = Summary Statement + Call To Action + Reference List/Works Cited/Reference Page. Some important things to remember about an Internship Reflection Paper: It’s one person reflecting on their internship experience, not a comparison with anyone else.

The goal of this reflection paper is to write something that the reader will find interesting and useful, helping them to reflect on their own experiences or future aspirations in their career/industry/area of study.

Your instructor will most likely have provided you with a set of Internship Reflection essay guidelines / criteria – these are important – follow every single rule so your final paper is professional!

How to write an intern reflection paper: Structure, Outline, Tips

The structure of a reflection essay is quite straightforward. There are many templates available online, but the following is a basic guide to writing such an essay:

1) Begin by explaining what you learned from the internship. Keep in mind that this should not be a summary of everything that happened, but rather insights gained by your participation and observation. For example: You might list some of these answers under the headings below:

a) Skills and knowledge developed?

Skills and knowledge acquired through training? These might include soft skills such as effective time management, teamwork or conflict resolution also technical skills like using a particular piece of equipment or software.

2) Next, explain any changes you have made as a result of the internship (eg attitude, knowledge).

For example:  I feel more comfortable now when talking to colleagues or asking for help rather than just doing what I’m told.

2) What did you learn about the workplace culture? Workplace cultures vary widely and it is important to understand how your workplace culture differs from that at your university. This will enable you to better adjust yourself to work in this new environment.

For example:

In our agency everyone works very hard and seems determined to succeed even though there are fewer opportunities for advancement – they seem less driven by promotion than at university, but express teamwork and camaraderie in response to limited opportunities.

3) Briefly explain what you will carry forward into your next stage of study/work.

4) Concluding thoughts: some general comments about the internship (eg what did you like best, any surprises). This is a good place to give credit to others who were influential for you (supervisor, colleagues). 

The structure above is a fairly typical intern reflection essay outline, however there are many other ways that such an essay can be structured.  The objective here is to provide guidance, rather than prescribe a format.  It’s important that you develop strong arguments for each point under headings listed above and avoid information overload through repetition.

Outline for a intern reflection essay:  How to write an internship reflection paper

The structure/outline for your intern reflection essay can be as detailed or as simple as you like.

In the following outline, we’ve provided a general guide to help you get started in writing such an essay. It is not written specifically for a legal intern, but will suit any area of work or study.

1) Introductory paragraph:  introduce topic

2) Body paragraphs (one per sub-heading below):

  • What did I learn from the internship?
  • What changes have I made because of this experience?   Example 1 – soft skills example 2 – technical skills and knowledge Example 3 – attitude Examples 4 – other personal growth acquired during internship.
  • What did I learn about the workplace culture?  In other words, how does this workplace differ from my place of study. Example 1 – difference in work pace Example 2 – differences in work ethic and attitude towards opportunities for advancement.
  • What will I carry forward into next stage of my career? Make sure your reflection essay ends on a positive note – where possible, include some comments about what was best or most enjoyable about your internship. It can be a good idea to also thank those who were influential during your internship for their support (mentor, supervisor).

3) Concluding paragraph:  what are you going to do differently as a result of this experience?   A strong concluding paragraph might refer back to the introductory paragraph, summarising the main points from your essay. A conclusion might also include future research or questions you have about what to expect next – in short, it should add value by being a relevant and helpful closing section.

Internship reflection paper example

This is an example intern reflective essay paper. Use this sample to write a custom essay or ask our writers for help by clicking here.

My internship has given me insights into the workings of a vast organization. Through working in a number of departments I have come to realize that big organizations work well and meet their objectives through collective effort by all employees, from top management to those who do the actual work. My first step into this large international organization was at head office where everyone was very friendly and made me feel welcome. This gave me confidence because I had expected that senior management would be distant and aloof, but they were not.

As part of this internship programme I worked in three departments over two months: Human Resources (HR), Quality Control (QC) and Customer Services (CS). Each department had its own special role, but also overlapped with others when it came to goals and objectives. Working in the CS department reinforced my belief that good teamwork is critical to success. I was struck by how each individual employee in this department, large as it was, chipped in with ideas to resolve a customer situation or improve service delivery; they did not wait for directions from above but independently got on with work that needed doing. At the same time I witnessed how open communication channels allowed people at all levels to help looking after customers. The direct approach adopted by the CS team contrasted significantly with what I observed working in other parts of the organization where information flowed through formal channels with higher-level executives having final say when making decisions affecting customers as well as employees at lower ranks within the organization.

It is evident that some systems and processes are in place to facilitate cooperation within and between departments. For example, the HR department has a good communication system that allows its members to provide feedback on other departments as well as get information from them. Critically, they set objectives for each department on an annual basis and meet regularly to evaluate how these are being met; this is probably where decisions regarding promotions and bonuses would be taken by senior management.

Late during my internship I came across what I thought was an inadequate and hasty decision by CS management when it closed down one of the service outlets because it was not meeting targets, even though I knew customers were sometimes complaining about facilities there. This raised several questions: Why did upper management allow this outlet to start operating before all necessary arrangements, including capital and manpower, were in place? When they found out that the outlet was not meeting targets did they take immediate corrective measures to put it back on track or did they wait till the last minute before pulling the plug? Why could upper management not use their good offices to persuade CS staff working at this outlet to up their game; had they tried, would there have been any success?

My experience with QC taught me that having an objective approach towards work is vital for all departments within a big organization. In my opinion employees should be motivated by career goals rather than just money rewards (though these are important too). Although I learned a great deal about how QC conducted its business and interacted with other departments during my internship, I sensed some apathy and lack of interest in what was happening outside their department.

This internship experience brought home to me that working in a large, multinational organization like the one I worked with is far more complex than imagined. The sheer number of people who are involved at all levels of operations presents logistical challenges for management trying to ensure cooperation among them. It also threw up issues regarding coherence and coordination between departments that need addressing if the organization is to deliver on its objectives as effectively as it should be doing.

Overall, my internship at the international organization enhanced my understanding of teamwork within an organizations. I now believe that success or failure can hinge on how employees operate as a team because together they make a difference; and this even applies in my own university campus.

I am aware too that I would need to work on my communication skills and learn to take direct feedback from superiors without getting upset or discouraged. If these things are achieved in future, I have no doubt other employees will responding positively because they will see me as someone who cares about improving the organization so service delivery becomes even better than it already is.

Recommendation Number Three:  The company should implement an employee evaluation system based on performance and not just attendance of training programs.

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