10 Things I Learned From Working a Full-Time Job This Summer

This summer I worked my first full-time job. It took some time adjusting from my flexible college schedule working with other students, to working from 9am-5pm in a space with professionals. As a Communication and American Studies double major, I was originally looking for an internship that worked with people in the same fields of interests. However, I found a position in Human Resources at a Biotech Start-up that I thought could be a valuable experience. I wanted to try something a little outside my comfort zone. Also, they hired me, so that was a big bonus! Here are some lessons I learned from my role this summer that are going to help me in the long run, especially as I begin my career post-college.

1. Trying something outside your typical box is really rewarding, especially at this stage

Think of internships as casual dating. It isn’t a long-term relationship, so use this time to explore and “date” around until you find something you can see yourself doing for more than a few months. 

2. Take initiative

Your manager has many jobs other than just watching over and checking in with you. To get things done and not be bored all the time, come up with ideas on your own and work on ideas that were just casually mentioned. Take the time to learn about the workplace you are in. 

3. Ask questions

There is nothing wrong with asking questions. Clarifying something before you get to work can save you a lot of trouble and time. Plus, it shows that you care about what you are working on. 

4. Coming in and working with adults can be intimidating at first, but they are people too

I was so scared to talk to people my first week but after eating lunch in the break room and working with people, it became a lot easier to see them as mentors and coworkers. Just talk to them and you’ll see they’re still normal people. 

5. Adjusting to 9am-5pm is really hard

Plan activities for yourself after work so you don’t just go home every day and do nothing, but also take some days to just relax. Take advantage of the fact that once you get home there no midterms to study for. 

6. Put yourself out there

Go to lunch with them. Try some bonding activities and start a conversation! If you push yourself a little, going to work can be really enjoyable if you get to know the people at the office. 

7. Take advantage of the fact that you’re working with people older than you

You can ask about their paths and learn about how and why they are where they are today. As someone whose path is unclear, I found this so valuable and informative. I learned that a lot of the time your major isn’t what you end up doing exactly afterwards, so use college as a time to explore and learn.

8. Use this time to figure out what you like and don’t like

You can be picky when deciding where you want to work after graduation. Learn about what you like in an office, what schedule works for you, how you want to use your time and what kind of people you want to work with. 

9. Apply what you learn to your classes

The benefit of taking on an internship while you are still in school is that you can take more classes on what you found interesting during your job. For example, I found that I really liked design and want to take a class in this subject area to learn more now. 

10. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes 

An internship is a learning experience and most managers realize that. You were hired because they believe that you can learn not because you already know everything there is to know.