I think I could turn into a professional intern after this summer. Come August I will have completed 4 internships! Crazy right?! Internships today are so much more than getting coffee and making copies (hopefully at least). It's a chance to really explore a field you might be interested in and learn if it's something you are really passionate about.
While there have been a lot of great moments there have equally been just as many hard ones. All of those moments I have learned from though (even the bad ones) and as a result it has made me a stronger, more qualified worker. I have learned so much about a professional work place and how to succeed as in intern during the past 4 summers. I have also learned what kind of company I want to work for in the future and what kind of work atmosphere is important to me.
I always say that the first day is the hardest (in my experience at least). As someone who has had to deal with constant change growing up (#militarylife) you'd think I would love it. WRONG. Couldn't be farther from the truth. I hate how uncomfortable I feel the first day. I hate not knowing where everything is, when I can eat lunch, when I should leave, how to do tasks, feeling unprepared, and not totally understanding how everything works. It's those first day feelings that I hate. I am someone who likes to know and understand everything that is happening, so I'm able to help to the best of my ability. And it's hard to do that on the first day when you're so unfamiliar with everything. But good news, luckily with time all of those things get better and a few days in and you'll understand everything going on.
Now to all you new interns out there, let me tell you a few tips and tricks I have learned and gathered in my past 4 summers.
No internship is a bad internship. Every single internship I have done has helped me narrow down what I want to do in my career. Even if you discover you hate the whole field you're interning in and decide you want to totally change your career path, you still learned something valuable from the internship that you may not have learned if you didn't do the internship!
Fun example: my good friend and sorority sister just graduated with a major in economics. Up until the summer before her senior year she thought she wanted to be a lawyer. That summer she interned in a family law office (which is exactly what she thought she wanted to do) and hated it and realized it's absolutely not something she was interested in. She just graduated from Furman this past summer and just started nursing school at Columbia University! Thank goodness she did that internship because she probably would be in law school right now starting a career that she wouldn't have liked way down the road!!
Ask tons of questions when your boss is first assigning you something until you fully understand it. I learned this early on. Your boss is busy and when they take the time to explain an assignment, you must listen. I usually always have a notebook out in front of me so I can quickly jot down notes so I remember everything. Ask all your questions right then when you have their time until you completely understand your task and you don't have to bother her or him with silly questions later.
Double, triple check your work. Case in point. Check the spelling of everything (even in simple emails) and make sure everything is 100% perfection before you hand it over to your boss. Remember they're counting on you.
STAY LATE. It makes all the difference. I promise they'll notice too. One summer I was 1 of 2 interns. The other intern left right at 5 o'clock on the dot every day no matter what was going on. I would always finish the task I was on (even if it was past 5), turn it in, and then before leaving ensure that no one else didn't need me to do anything. It gives you major brownie points if you stay later than expected. It shows dedication and hard work.
On my last day of that internship, the big big boss asked to take me out to lunch and told me how much I stood out compared to the other intern and why they trusted me with bigger assignments. It's little gestures like staying late that make all the difference.
Finish as many tasks as you can the same day they're assigned. Don't leave until the tasks that need to be done that day are done. Obviously if it's a long term project then it will take a few days, but simple assignments your boss asked you for help on should be finished before you leave.
Get there early. Once again, shows dedication and that you take your job seriously! I'm not talking 30 minutes early because that might be a bit much, but 10 minutes is perfect!
Write a (hand written) thank you note at the end to everyone in the office. It's appreciated more than you know and it automatically makes you stick out.
Ask for a letter of recommendation. Great to have for future opportunities and helps to have it right on hand. I keep all of them on my computer!
Make your bosses life easier. That's really why you were hired in the first place. You might even feel like an assistant at times, but if you win her over, you've won!
Do even the smallest assignments as best you can. It may be frustrating when you get small assignments like organizing closets, filing papers, and making copies, but it's these assignments that are going to show your boss that they can trust you (if you do them properly!). So show them that you can handle much more and by doing the little things right you will....
Gain their trust. While the simple tasks in the beginning may make you feel like they don't want you to do anything, it's just because they need to gain your trust before giving you more responsibility. If you can't make a copy how they ask or drop something off they probably aren't going to trust you with bigger responsibilities.
Become irreplaceable. Make it so they can't envision their life and office without your help. Do this and you might land yourself a job or at least someone who will always speak highly of you!
Take a look back at my internships:
And currently: Fashion PR company