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A Piece of Advice for First-Time Interns

As someone who just had their first internship EVER, you can imagine how scared I was. Not only that, but it was an IN-PERSON internship, in a town I had NEVER been to before. Terrifying. 

I was lucky enough to not only have a great experience at my internship and meet some incredible women, but I also learned a lot about the ~real~ world. I had many highs and a fair amount of lows. So, from someone who already went through what you might be going through soon, here’s some advice. 

  1. You! Get! Out! What! You! Put! In! 

I can’t stress this enough. The effort that you put forth at your internship (or any job, really) will show and benefit you. Classes can only teach you so much. When you finish an assignment, ask for another one. It will not only show drive, but it also allows you to practice skills you might not be totally familiar with.  

  1. Dress To Impress

I’m not saying go full business-mode every day of your internship, but DEFINITELY dress a little nice for the first day. Then, you can get a feel for what everyone else is wearing and plan accordingly for the future.

  1. Be Friendly, DUH!

Work friends are an absolute MUST! Who else is going to understand the frustration of your boss, or listen to you rant about how stupid the new Adobe update is? Newsflash, not your roommate/partner! They’ll (hopefully) be nice and sympathize with you, but no one will truly understand your pain like your co-workers do. They also might come in handy at some point in your future! They might work at a company you’re applying to or live in a new city you want to visit. , move to a different town you want to visit, etc. It never hurts to be nice and connections are everything!

  1. Come Prepared

First impressions are very important, so when you first start your internship make sure you are prepared. There is nothing wrong with having a question or needing an explanation, but nothing is a bigger turnoff than  interns  that say something stupid like, “I didn’t bring a pen.” A PEN? Come on. You’ll probably need a pen, so bring a pen. Bring a planner. Bring a notebook. Bring everything you think you might need. It’s better to be over prepared than under prepared. 

  1. Deadlines Are Real

I know college has deadlines, but sometimes those can be moved or pushed back for a portion of your grade. But in the real world, deadlines are serious. You can’t tell your client on Friday that you don’t have the calendar listings they wanted ready because you were tired. You’ll get fired. The easiest way to make deadlines is to write everything down. Write on your calendar the date it’s due, put a reminder on your phone, write it in your planner, do whatever it takes to make sure you make that deadline. 

Which sort of brings me to my fifth point…. 

  1. Don’t Let Them Push You Around! 

I know it is scary being an intern and being on the bottom of the food chain again, but that doesn’t mean they can push you around whenever they want to. If someone tells you they want something done by Friday and then Thursday afternoon you get an email saying they need it now but it isn’t ready, you can say no. You can tell them they said it was due Friday and you will give it to them as soon as possible, but you can’t promise it’ll be today. 

  1. Make Sure Your Social Media is Clean or Private 

If you have anything on your social media that you think could be controversial, hide it. If you have a ~risky~ picture on Instagram, make your account private. Don’t change who you are or hide yourself, just make your accounts private or don’t post something if you’re worried about it. 

  1. Don’t Know Something? Google First. 

Nothing is more annoying to people than when they have to answer stupid questions. If Google doesn’t have the answer, ask a coworker. If they don’t know the answer, THEN ask the boss. I asked something really stupid one day at work and everyone just looked at me… yeah, it was awkward. 

  1. Expect to Have Some Boring Days 

While you are working in the “real” world, you’re also still an intern. Sometimes there is a lot to do, but only the actual employees can handle it. You might be twiddling your thumbs until you get off so bring a book or something to do. They might let you leave early if you aren’t doing anything, but be prepared to be bored sometimes. 

  1. Have Fun! 

The most important part of life is enjoying it. If you are unhappy where you are,  figure out a way to deal with it. I wouldn’t recommend moving, necessarily, since you never know where you will be in a year, I would recommend looking on the bright side of it. Good experience, a letter of recommendation and being able to showcase your abilities, that’s a good enough reason for me to stay. Then, if things still aren’t working out, you can begin to consider a new direction in your career.  

Riley is a senior at the University of Alabama getting a degree in Public Relations with minors in Psychology and Leadership Communication.
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