7 Things Your Internship Should Be Teaching You

Internships are the perfect way to apply your skills outside of the classroom. They give you a taste of the careers you may choose to pursue in the future. Internships will give you the chance to further develop your technical knowledge, while also gaining practical experience needed by professionals in the industry. Here are some underlying lessons your internship should be teaching you!

1. New Strengths & Weaknesses

Completing class assignments do not always simulate real world projects. You may ace a project in class, but struggle with performing a similar task for a company. Similarly, you may hate completing assignments you view as busy work for your introductory course, but find satisfaction in seeing your efforts bring value to your organization in your internship. As you navigate your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll have to get used to receiving feedback and criticism.

2. Skills You Did Not Know You Needed for Your Intended Career Path

Even with lots of research and preparation, your internship may not be what you expected. In your role, you may encounter responsibilities you didn’t realize you would have. Be sure to ask questions and take advantage of every learning opportunity, so you can add the skills to your resume and prepare for similar positions. Whether you or not you enjoy learning and applying new skills, you can use this experience to diversify yourself and prepare for your future career.

3. Work Environment and Organizational Culture Preferences

A large component of your internship learning experience is the organizational culture of the company you’re interning with. Even if you love every aspect of the work you’re doing, a miserable work environment can ruin your experience. Your surroundings, supervisors and coworkers greatly affect your work environment. When you start your job search, you’ll have to think about your work environment preferences. You’ll have to choose between serious and relaxed, loud and quiet and team and individual work environments. Whether you love or hate the atmosphere at your internship, you’ll be able to make adjustments to your career goals to meet your work environment preferences in the future.

5. New Interests

In your internship position, you’ll discover new avenues within your industry. Find the areas of the field that most interest you, so you can better search for future internships and careers. If given the opportunity, try out new areas of the field that are outside your comfort zone. Treat your position as a learning experience, and soak up as much information as possible.

6. Networking Skills

Depending on the nature of your internship, you may be expected to attend events or meet with employees. This is the perfect opportunity to practice your networking skills. Your supervisors and surrounding staff are excellent resources. As industry professionals, they can connect you with new opportunities that fit your skill set and interests. Seek advice from and stay in contact with professionals you encounter.

7. Confidence

As you get more comfortable with your interviewing skills, responsibilities and interpersonal communication, you’ll gain confidence in your abilities. Your internship may require you to give presentations or brainstorm with a team while planning a long-term project. Whether these activities are formal or informal, polishing your verbal skills and sharing your ideas with an audience will boost your confidence. After leaving your internship position, you’ll have a portfolio of work and experience.

Whether you love or hate your internship position, it is one of the most valuable learning experiences. Beyond learning the basics of your everyday responsibilities, your internship will teach you a lot about interpersonal communication in the workplace. You’ll also learn a lot about yourself as you figure out your skills, passions and preferences.