Internships are fun. They’re an experience. They can suck. Internships are a lot of things but they are mainly what you make of them. Yeah, you might get stuck with an unfortunate soul but there are other souls around that you can talk to. It might not be up to par with what you thought it would be but it’s still something. When I think of internships, I think of being grateful that someone took a chance to teach me and let me inside their world to learn. Not everyone is lucky to secure a position. Not everyone is lucky enough to have great credentials on their resume as they’re moving up in life. It might not be your choice of tea but you got this.
Why am I talking about internships? Well, spring internships start in about a month for some people. Two, I like to give advice because not everyone has someone that will spout some knowledge or give their perspective. Plus, I had three internships and I feel like I learned a lot or I learned a little depending on each internship. Sometimes, you get lucky with having someone that wants to teach you — you continue learning as you take on your first job and move around in career, don’t think it just stops once you graduate. If you’re stuck with someone that doesn’t care to teach you, go out on a limb and see if you can shadow someone else in the department that has been friendly to you. Obviously, you can learn on your own but if you have questions, who is going to answer them? Don’t say Google because Google does not know everything… trust me.
Going into an internship is a basket of many feelings — you’re excited, you’re nervous, you don’t know what’s going to happen, you’re going to learn about something that you’re interested about. It’s a lot of things. As an intern, you are going to have tons to learn and tons on your plate. It’s a good thing, though, don’t freak out. You’re learning and it’s the first step to doing what you want in life. Here are a few tips to remember, they can and should apply to everyday life but as your first step into the professional world, they’re something to remember.
You are not beneath anyone.
Do not let anyone treat you like garbage. They always say interns are at the bottom but that doesn’t mean you are going to be disrespected. This is not Grey’s Anatomy — Cristina Yang, Meredith Grey, and Alex Karev are not around to call you #1, #2, or not even acknowledge that you have a name. You are a person and you are not worthless so don’t let anyone make you feel inadequate. This is a valid point because I feel like the fictional world has hopped on the train of dragging interns and making it seem like the workplace tortures them. It’s not like that at all and if it is, please go talk to HR. Yeah, there are some jerks out there but they like to hide it during office hours because it’s a professional setting. I’ve never witnessed an intern being pushed around but I’m just one person. I know there are terrible people out there so don’t let them push you around. Don’t stand for being someone’s punching bag. You deserve to be where you are and they can not belittle that.
Do your best at everything.
This will be said to you all the time but do you best at whatever it is that you are doing. Don’t slack off because you’re already there — you still have a way to go and should never just slack off because you got the position. Keep proving to people why you deserve to be there. Now, you don’t have to provide validation for anyone just because they are questioning you but if you want to hair flip and show off those skills, do it. Always remember that an internship is just the first step and can be the step that leads to either a full-time position or the door to opportunity. You want to impress people and you want to be the person that everyone wants working for them. Show everyone that you’re worth it.
Remember to take a breath.
The worst thing you can do to yourself is psych yourself out. Doubting yourself only causes you to worry and get nervous. I still doubt myself and worry about things but I’ve become so much more confident in my line of work and on the things that I have put together. I used to pause for a few minutes before hitting send or sharing with others because I was like what will they think of this? Don’t doubt your work. Don’t doubt yourself. You’re where you are for a reason. Don’t let someone tell you why you’re in a certain position especially if they don’t know you or care to know you. People like to knock people down and you have to remember that so you don’t let their toxic thoughts invade your mind. Breathe and chill out. The best thing you can do is believe in yourself and breathe.
Always ask questions.
My first job I never asked questions and I would be stuck when it came to getting certain things done. This was my own fault, though — I didn’t want to ask for help because I didn’t want people to think I couldn’t do my job. That’s not a good way to think. You need to ask questions to understand. Your mentor or leader is ahead of you for a reason and if you can, set aside time to talk to them. If you don’t know the answer, reach out because someone will know the answer. Questions are good. Why else would they ask you for your own questions during the interview? Don’t ever think skipping out on questions is a good thing because to some people it shows them that you are interested and intrigued. Get the answers, don’t struggle if you don’t have to.
Treat everyone with respect.
You know that one quote where they say to treat everyone with respect — the CEO, managers, co-workers, janitors, cooks, etc? Do it. Treat everyone with respect because you don’t know their story. Don’t treat anyone like they are beneath you. At the end of the day, I’ve always preached that I’d rather be known as a good person rather than a successful person. The nice kid tag isn’t a bad tag. You don’t even have to be nice but you do need to be respectful because that goes a long way. If someone above you or your mentor isn’t respectful(which I would find hard to believe), don’t mock those actions. You are your own person for a reason. Be a decent person.
As you suit up for your internship, remember why you’re there and the impression you are going to make. This is your time to take in all the skill that you can get and show the world how bomb you are. Be a good person. It might not be as rememberable as a celebrity but people won’t recall you being a terrible person. First impressions are everything. How you treat people is important. Learn everything that you can and then some more.
Also, load up on swag. It’s the best thing you’ll ever do. Trust me.
What are your tips for future interns?