One of the worst things about college is that there are no more normal summers like when you were a kid. While you may get to head back home for a couple months (only after you pack up that shoe-box of a dorm or apartment), you have to realize that you are an adult now with adult responsibilities. Let’s face it, most of us during the summer are at least consumed with one of these things: summer classes, a job, or an internship.
It’s kind of a scary thing if you’ve never really experienced it. You are probably thinking of a 9am-to-5pm gig with loads of filing to do and coffee shop trips to make. At least, that’s what I thought before I walked in on the first day of my internship. The fact of the matter is, this doesn’t apply to all of them. Each experience is unique, and you might actually learn something and have cool responsibilities while interning for a company. After all, internships are transitions to the real world, the world after you graduate–where you have to at least look like you have adult-ing down.
Here are nine tips I’ve learned during my first internship, so you can prepare for your experience.
1. Don’t get there late on your first day (or an hour and fifteen minutes early).
Not all of us live in cities where the jobs are located, and most will have to commute for internships. Research the drive to the location of the internship. Being really early might give a bad impression, but not as much as being late! Be respectful about the times you are supposed to show up. The people in charge of interns actually have extra work themselves to make sure they give their interns appropriate tasks.
2. Know the dress code before you go in.
It’s always better to ask than guess it. A plethora of offices will be business casual, but you always want to be dressed for the occasion. Even though this may seem shallow, people make judgments based on your looks because we are human after all. Dress to impress.
3. You are supposed to get something out of this too.
You are interning to learn just as much as you are to help them with the various tasks that need to be done. Interning allows you to figure out what you want before actually committing to a career (FYI to those people with commitment phobias).
4. Make friends with the other interns.
If you need work advice or actually any advice, they are the ones to go to. They are put in your exact position and may have more experience in things you don’t know about or were never taught.
5. When in doubt, ask questions.
No, they will not think you are stupid. You are not supposed to be a pro at their job; you are learning. Whoever you work under will probably be happy to have you ask questions, so they know you are dedicated to doing a task right.
6. Excel is your friend.
It is such an amazing way to organize information. You may be doing a lot of research, so get used to putting information into charts. Microsoft Excel (or Google Sheets) is a good thing to become proficient in because various companies utilize it.
7. Try interviewing co-workers.
Interview people at the office, whatever job they may have. Learn about different career paths you could head down. You may discover something you never knew existed, and you may fall in love with it. This also helps with networking.
8. Add people on LinkedIn!
This goes back to the networking thing. You never know what you can learn from someone later on or if interning hard could lead to another position or potential job. It’s a small world. Trust me.
9. Get through the grunt work.
Yes, there will be projects you don’t want to do. They may not even pertain to anything you enjoy doing, but let’s face it, you are probably either getting paid little to nothing. We all start somewhere, and the petty paperwork and presentations won’t kill you.
With these nine things in mind, you are ready to pursue an internship. So, make sure you keep your resume updated and have it checked out by a professor or someone from your school’s career center. You can even start looking for internships (for next semester or summer) now on UGA Handshake!
Article cover photo found here.