5 Important Things I Learned From My Summer Internship

Summer break: it came and it went. Whether you were working retail full-time, taking summer classes, had your dream internship, or just relaxing on the beach, we all are going to miss it whether we want to admit it or not. Nothing beats barbeques, sunny days, late nights and warm weather. It’s a recipe to put everybody in a good mood, but sadly, all good things must come to an end.

 

For the class of 2018, it’s especially sad knowing this past summer was the last chance to enjoy having an entire summer off. For a lot of upperclassmen, the summer is usually spent doing an internship to prepare and get experience in a professional working environment. Although not everybody gets an internship in their college career, I was lucky enough to snag one for myself. Having an internship has taught me so many things about the working environment that I didn’t expect to learn but am so grateful that I did.

 

First off, getting an internship isn’t always as easy as some people make it seem. I spent most of my junior year of college trying to find any internship that paid at least minimum wage to get me by during the summer. I remember talking to my advisor in October about how I was looking for an internship and was told that most people don’t normally start looking until January. After hearing that, I figured it would be easy for me to get an internship since I was ahead of the game. It turns out that it was much harder than I thought. I remember hearing my classmates talking about the offers they were getting and couldn't shake the fact that there must have been something wrong with my résumé or just me as a person. After months of searching, I was finally able to get an internship after acing both of my interviews. Once I started, I realized there wasn’t anything wrong with me or my qualifications, and that leads to the next valuable lesson I learned.

It’s all about who you know. Having connections is one of the most important things you can have when it comes to getting a job. Some people may have an amazing résumé but never get an interview because the interviewer decided to hire someone that got recommended to them or they knew personally. When I started my internship, I would go and introduce myself to all of the full-time workers and the first question they would ask me is, “Who do you know here?” At first, I thought it was such a strange question to ask, but after hearing that question for the 3rd or 4th time, I realized that most of the interns were able to get the job because they had a connection to someone at the company. Everyone was always surprised that I got the job and didn’t know anyone because it was a very competitive company to work for. Although I was upset that the other companies may have turned me down because they didn’t know me or I didn’t have a connection, it was a confidence-booster knowing how impressed everybody was that I got the job. The main lesson, it’s all about connections. The more you have, the better your chances are for that dream job. LinkedIn is a great place to get started with making connections with friends, co-workers, professors, and former bosses. You never know who will be gateway to landing the job.

 

Making connections isn’t good enough; you have to put in as much effort as you can when working. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how lazy people can be on the job. When you work at a company, putting in 110% whenever you can is crucial to making good connections. Just because you got the job, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a job there after college or even a good recommendation. You have to prove to your boss that you are as worthy as you made yourself sound during the interview. We all know that one person at work who tries to make shortcuts and although they may still get paid as much as you, at the end of the day, your boss knows who is worthy or that recommendation letter and who isn’t. Besides, if you work hard enough, they may even offer you a full-time job in the future.

 

Whether you have your dream internship or an internship that pays the bills and provides some work experience, your internship won’t always be glamorous. Although I was lucky enough to get an internship, I was working with a company and department that had nothing to do with my major. I had an internship at a water company and the department I worked in did a lot of trips to different construction sites. Other days, I would show up and sit at a computer from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. This can go for any internship experience though. Some days you might be asked to help out with an awesome project, while other days you might be asked to do a coffee run. Not every day can be exciting because if every day was exciting, wouldn’t that excitement wear off and just be another boring day? Having some boring days comes with having a professional job.

Even though you may not be doing exactly what you want to be doing, there will always be something you can take away from a job. No matter what field you are going in, you can walk away from every job learning something, even if it’s small. During my internship, I got to work with a data entry program that I had never worked with before. Being able to put that on my résumé makes me look that much better to future employers. I also had to work together through some creative differences with some of my fellow interns and although it may have been annoying at the time, I walked away knowing that in my next job interview, I can say that I am a great team player and am willing to compromise when needed in order to get the job done. No one wants to hire someone who is stuck in their stubborn ways because they would have trouble accomplishing tasks.

Having an internship was a great learning experience for me about how a professional job works. Although I probably wouldn’t work there as a full-time employee, getting the opportunity to learn about the different aspects that go into making an internship successful was worth it. Going through the job process has prepared me for what to expect when starting my job hunt at the end of the school year. If you want an internship, don’t be afraid to apply everywhere and anywhere. You never know who might take a chance on you!

 

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