As someone who has had a number of internships, I have had plenty
of experiences, both good and bad. I use to think that I knew exactly
what I wanted to do and I could jump right into the job market after
graduating college, having no internships. When I was entering
college, internships seemed like a foreign idea and did not seem
As I have made my way through college, I would have to say,
that could not be farther from the truth. I cannot stress the
importance of internships enough.
In case you haven’t stepped into the internship world yet, or in case you are in the middle of it and a little lost, here is what I have learned from my internships:
1. Internships are not just for figuring out what you do want to do; They are also helpful in figuring out what you do not want to do.
2. Always bring a business card with you to all of the events you attend, especially networking events. Even if it just says your name and contact information, it is crucial to make sure you have a card with you. If you don’t have cards, get them made…today!
3. Always wear comfortable shoes! As an intern, you will most likely be running around doing things, in and out of the office. Do not wear shoes that hurt (even if they are cute,) because it is unlikely you will be sitting at your desk during your eight hours in the office.
4. Internships don’t always mean experience. You may be asked to water the plants, or get coffee for your bosses. But that’s okay. Often times, you need experience, in order to gain experience. Take that internship for what it is, learn what you do and don’t like, and go find yourself an internship where you can get some more hands-on experience. Even if you feel like you aren’t learning any real skills, at the very least, internships look great on your resume!
5. Internships don’t always mean “coffee maker.” When I hear people talk about internships, I often hear the myth that copying and getting coffee are the only things interns do. Sure, sometimes you can get stuck doing the busy work in the office, (hey, someone has to,) but a lot of the time, internships give you real hands-on experience and allow you to learn the ins and outs of the industry you want to enter.
6. Always be prepared and always say yes. If you’re lucky enough to land yourself an internship where you are able to get hands-on experience, and your supervisors want to offer you additional opportunities, take them. Always volunteer to do the extra work, always volunteer to be at events.
7. Start acting like part of the team. Chances are if you attend events with your co-workers, dress the part and fit in with the office culture, they will start to picture you as part of the team.
8. Just because it’s time to clock out, doesn’t mean you should and just because you aren’t off for another hour, doesn’t mean you should stay. Get what you need to get done for the day and get it done correctly. Then, do a little extra to get yourself ahead and organized. However long that takes you, is how long you should be there. Chances are, especially if you’re getting paid, your supervisor would rather you get your stuff done and then head out, versus killing time just to kill time.
***This may vary depending on your agency or company.
9. SMILE! This seems obvious, but I’ve gone in-to offices where I have seen interns, even regular employees for that matter, who look so unhappy to be there. Your internship is a great opportunity, so smile. If you truly are unhappy to be there, fake it ‘till you make it, or find a new internship. An internship is not permanent, so just remember that. Try to stick it out and gain what you can from the experience.
10. Follow up on your work, your team will be impressed with you if you do. Keep a list of your pending tasks, or things you need to check back on, and actually check back on them. Remind your team about something you are working on and update them on the progress. They will be impressed that you stick with your projects and will see you as someone who is organized and will trust you to handle future projects.
P.S. In the event of #4 being the reality of your situation, make sure you know how your boss takes his or her coffee.