My Internship Takeaways

Photo courtesy of Mama Kubusia

I’m not sure if it’s just been my luck, but I can’t be more grateful for my internships this year. They both made me realize what my passions are, and I was able to leave with not only a ton of experience, but also a couple families that I know will always be rooting for me.

Interning on top of a full workload of classes and extracurriculars is tough. I often thrive in high stress situations and joke that “I love stress!” When in reality, I’m kicking myself for taking on too much. I’m at that point in my college career where I’m so over taking classes and would rather just WORK. But I realized this semester that maybe I should slow it down a bit.

Here are my takeaways, that are strictly my opinions, but worth a read:

1. If all you do is get people’s coffee, quit.

I think one of the first turn-offs I have ever had in an interview was when I was told one of my duties as an intern was to get my bosses coffee order every day. Don’t get me wrong, I love offering to grab my fellow employees coffee, but if I have to get a particular coffee, at a particular time, on the dot, three splendas, half a shot no whip - nope. Thank you, next…

2. If you are treated like a number, quit.

Luckily I have worked in companies where I felt like a part of the team rather than just a number in a corporate office. The best learning opportunities begin in smaller workplaces in my opinion. You feel included on conversations and a value to the office. If you are treated like a number, or just “that blonde intern,” take a step back and reevaluate your self worth or maybe where a name tag to get the hint across.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for advice.

Before my most recent internship, I was terrified to ask questions. I enjoy being people’s independent employee, ya know, someone who can figure it out on their own. I have seen many people ask their bosses hundreds of questions on a daily basis and heard them say, “Good God can they just figure it out?,” or, “Were they even listening?” As a result I just eavesdrop a lot, take notes, and rely on my intuition to sort through obstacles I find. But sometimes, you just need to ask. It is better to be safe than sorry. I would rather have my employer read through my draft of an email twice before sending it to a client than have an “oh shit” moment when you accidentally attach a picture of a cat meme you meant to forward to your mom. Ask away my friends!

4. Be honest.

Do not lie. Do not lie. Do not lie. Do not skip work, do not fake being sick. Karma will catch up to you. I have seen too many instances where people have faked being sick or faking a family death (so messed up!!) as an excuse of why they’re late, not showing up, or couldn't submit something on time. If you are behind, say it. If you cannot get out of bed, say it. If you don’t want to do a task, just say it!

5. Be a go-to-gal.

Of every cover letter I have written, this is one of my ending lines because it truly speaks to the kind of girl I am. Like I said before, I love to work and I am always looking to work on anything and everything! Once you have finished up your day to day tasks, ask your team if there is anything that you can do for them! If you see someone is overwhelmed with tasks, offer a helping hand. If you see your skills fit in a project, vocalize it! Trust me, everyone will appreciate it.

6. But don’t be afraid to say no.

With that being said even saying “no” can be a huge challenge for me. I just love being everyone’s go-to that sometimes I forget about my own sanity sometimes. Especially when you are taking classes and committed to other things outside of the office, bringing your work home with you can be so so stressful. If you get asked to take a call or do some research your own time but know you can’t, just….say….no.

7. Build working relationships.

I have an unhealthy obsession with networking. I just really love meeting new people and am not afraid to pick people’s brains about a few things. When you are in the workplace, those people are your team so you should treat them like your team. Work together, be the go-to intern, build respect within the office! I think the greatest takeaways from my internships are the families I have gained. These are people who you are going to be asking to write you letters of recommendation, asking to grab coffee with, and in some cases even asking for a job from. They will be your number one fans if you are theirs.

8. Share your ideas.

Speak your mind even if it is the most ludicrous idea you have ever had. If you have any expertise in an area your team may not know about, share! As an intern that is what you are there for. You are young, cool, and  up-to-date with the world--your brain is so valuable to a company and people will really appreciate it when you share your thoughts and opinions on some things.

9. Be polite.

Respect is huge. Be courteous of other people’s jobs, say thank you, please, don’t break the toilet (don’t ask), offer your help. I shouldn’t have to say anymore, but show them the same respect you would show your parents. They didn’t need to hire you, there are plenty of other college students looking for jobs. So the very least you can do is be polite and show respect.

10. Be kind.

People call me such a kiss ass. I’m not, I’m just a genuinely kind person. As I said before, there are plenty of fish in the sea, and this company hired you for a reason. That being said, you are easily replaceable. Be that ray of sunshine the office needs, be that positive energy that sets the tone in the office. Ever holiday, departure, last day, birthday, I would bring in flowers or a sign of my gratification. I can never repay them for everything they’re done for me, so I might as well show an ounce of appreciation.

I often brag about my internships because I have been truly blessed with amazing teams and new skills I wouldn’t get anywhere else. A lot of my peers absolutely hate where they intern and think they’re just wasting their time. If there is one thing I have learned is that it’s all about what you make of every situation. Sure, not everything is fabulous on a day to day basis, but I have learned to take each task like a grain of salt, make each moment worth it, and get as much as out of the internship as possible.