Internships to an undergrad can seem frightening and as if you are hurdling too fast toward your future which is just around the corner! Most students have never had an experience like it before, so the unknowns are countless scaring them away from an opportunity that will hopefully positively impact their mindset and career. This semester, I received an opportunity to intern at a local hospital in their cardiac rehabilitation program. Although my internship was focused around the medical field, the lessons that I have learned through the process can be applied to anyone in any desired field.
- It is not only ok to ask questions, it shows that you care!
Walking into an unfamiliar setting with unfamiliar coworkers will throw anyone for a loop but walking into a hospital where people’s health is dependent upon the care that I would provide was terrifying and gave a sense of responsibility. Would I be helpful? Would I know enough about the cardiac system to understand the medical terminology? Would I make a great impression for myself and for my college? I couldn’t know nearly everything that the trained specialists and nurses know, who have been working in the program for years, so I made it my goal to ask questions to those professionals to acquire at least some of their knowledge. I went in having an improper mindset that asking questions showed a sign of weakness whereas it truly shows dedication and a willingness to learn.
- Unpaid internships pay you with priceless experience.
Fast forward through the orientations and paper work, I have been able to sit in on an echocardiogram, cardiac catherization, stress test, and hopefully in the near future, an open-heart surgery. I have only been able to read about these types of procedures in my textbooks and maybe see pictures, but the firsthand experience that I will now get to say I have accumulated shadows any type of payment. How many people get to say that they have been able to sit in on an open-heart surgery? The nerd that lives in me has been able to fully come out!
- It is OKAY to be a student in a professional setting.
I had the opportunity to sit down with a surgeon and discuss the innermost details of the heart and processes of the cardiac system and how he fits into the equation. Automatically I started sweating and my heart rate spiked. Any person who has studied in a particular field wants to prove to a working professional and themselves their knowledge on the subject. I am positive that a surgeon will know leaps more than a junior in college. It is OKAY not to know everything. How could you? I learned that you shouldn’t consider any downfall as a failure, but as a challenge to yourself, from yourself. (By the way, I surprised myself with the knowledge that I had and you will too!)
- Take pride in the small details of professionalism.
Internships are like a window into the future and hopefully will show you through experience what you do and do not like. This is a great way to witness and learn how to act in a professional manner. Show up early and make sure you are ready to go with whatever materials you need. In a medical field, when around patients, an encouraging smile can go a very long way. I have found that confidence is not only crucial in a job setting but can be shown by how you simply carry yourself which is why I live by the motto: “dress for success!” Make sure that lab coat is ironed, and your badge is front and center!
- Taking an internship outside of your field of interest is not a bad idea.
I’m in college in hopes of becoming a physical therapist, yet I took an internship in a cardiac rehab facility. This internship is connected to my interests through the medical field, but my courses tend to lend more towards muscles and the associated healing processes, not so much with the heart. This internship is giving me the experience needed to better sympathize with future patients and gain valuable knowledge that you cannot learn in a classroom. I will forever be grateful for this experience, the knowledge that I have accumulated, and the connections I have made!