I wanted to ask how a summer intern would go about proposing new projects towards a company.

As I am wrapping up the final weeks of my summer internship developing additional functions to the company's in-house statistical analysis GUI for R. I find myself wondering how I would go about pitching the idea of how the current project can be improved in the future.

I understand that as a summer intern, my gravitas is well... limited...(perhaps non-existent is a better word).

I have read the question and answers from a similar question and determined that I can ask. But the decision is whether or not I should and how.

From an office-politics perspective, this action would serve as self-aggrandizing (or self-serving?) as it would mean more work for me (or continued work for me beyond the summer internship). I understand that from a company perspective, with limited budgets and resources, this would not be within the original scope of my employment.

From the project's perspective however, metaphorically this would be akin to upgrading from Microsoft Office 2000 to MS office 2013 (more functions, easier to use, looks better). There will be an initial cost, but the subsequent increases in productivity and ease-of-use would be, yet difficult to measure, counterweights to the cons.

Coming from the perspective of a summer intern, how can I go about proposing a new project?


Coming from the perspective of a summer intern, how can I go about proposing a new project?

Write up a proposal. Lay out your ideas, the expected costs, the expected benefits, a hypothetical timeline of tasks, etc. Don't just make it a project that could only succeed if you do the work, but make it more generalized. Make sure it's a project that a well-trained person could handle, not just something that needs you specifically.

Then schedule a chat with your boss. Start out by saying something like "I have really appreciated my internship here. I've learned a lot. And I've been thinking..." then talk about your ideas.

Leave your boss with your written proposal and offer to discuss it further if he/she would like to do so.

This is a really nice idea, shows initiative on your behalf, and might make you stand out over other interns should future opportunities arise.

If, and only if, your boss asks if you would like to stay on to take this project forward, then you can take him/her up on the offer. Otherwise, just make it a sort of "final paper" to be handed off with the best of intentions.

When I hired summer interns, I was always happy to discuss their thoughts and ideas. In fact, I always "debriefed" interns as we celebrated their internship, thanked them for they summer work, and sent them back to school. I took everything they said very seriously, as really good ideas often come from a wide variety of sources.

  • Thanks for your reply. I really liked the part about writing everything down and presenting it to my boss. The question I wanted to ask was when you mentioned "make it more generalized". In my original question I mentioned that I understand that this "would serve as self-aggrandizing (or self-serving?)". How would I be able to present (or pitch) an idea and not have it implicitly implicate my involvement? This would seem to be a paradox in my opinion. – Bluebird Aug 5 '15 at 17:04
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    You cold also frame it as an exercise in pitching, and ask your boss for feedback on your approach. That way, you are able to present your idea, but in the context of learning "how to pitch" and obtain some useful criticism. – Laconic Droid Aug 5 '15 at 18:18
  • @LaconicDroid Thank you for your suggestion. I will certainly phrase it this way. – Bluebird Aug 6 '15 at 12:37

If you have to report on your project at the end of the internship, then I would add it to the end of the presentation.

My experience with this is to report on the project goal and requirements > snapshot of situation before starting project > methodology and work involved in implementing project > snapshot of situation after project completion > proposal for next stage or project follow-through.

Companies tend to use interns from the same discipline rather frequently. Your proposal may be the next intern's project.

  • Noted, I just hope I am the next intern! – Bluebird Aug 6 '15 at 12:37

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