An internship is supposed to be a learning opportunity. How much you actually get to learn in the course of an internship depends on your level of initiative. There are folks who go through internships without learning a thing. Conversely, there are folks who get a chance to learn a lot of stuff in the course of their internships: stuff that benefits them for a lifetime. All said and done, there are several things you need to do, in order to benefit from an internship.
Firstly, in order to benefit from an internship opportunity, you need to do your best to observe how things are done in the organization(s) you will be interning at. If you are keen, you will learn a lot this way. Some tasks may be too sensitive to be assigned to you (as an intern). But you can still learn by observing, even without actually performing the tasks.
Secondly, in order to benefit from an internship opportunity, you need to ask questions. By way of asking questions, you may get a chance to learn about stuff you’d otherwise have missed out on.
Thirdly, in order to benefit from an internship opportunity, you need to express interest in being assigned tasks. Let’s say, for instance, that you are serving as an intern in the Jackson County correctional department, specifically in the office from where MedfordOregon mugshots are posted. The said mugshots are created out of the photos that are taken when Jackson County inmates are being admitted (to jail). Now let’s assume that you are interning at the desk where the mugshots are actually posted into the database. If you express interest in being assigned tasks, you may be assigned (under the supervision of an officer) the task of ensuring that the mugshots match with inmates’ names and other details. In the course of this task, you get a chance to understand how the inmates’ database works. The knowledge acquired this way can subsequently be applied in numerous other scenarios, after graduating from college. But if you don’t show interest in being assigned tasks, the folks at the office you will be interning at will be only too happy to go about their work in the normal manner, and you will lose out.
Fourthly, in order to benefit from an internship opportunity, you need to relate well with the people you will be encountering (at the organization where you will be interning). Ultimately, you need to view the internship not just as a learning opportunity, but also as a networking opportunity. If you are paying your own expenses while going through the internship, you will need to get value for your money: by using the internship opportunity to network widely within the industry. You have to remember that it is just a matter of time before you leave college and join the queue of jobseekers — where you will probably need ‘contacts’ to get a decent position.