Life Lessons Learned From Internships

As students, we prepare all semester to land an internship for our programs but once we’re in the field, we start to realize that there’s meaning behind having an internship required in order to graduate. After this summer with my first internship, I learned many life lessons that will help me throughout my entire career. I gained so much insight and experience from just three months of my summer that I knew I couldn’t be the only one who felt like my internship wasn’t just another job to record on my resume. I went out and asked others what life lessons they learned from their internships. I felt their answers reflected my own.

  1. Be patient! I work with teens who have behavioral and mental health issues and I have to always keep in mind that they have so much going on in their home lives. Some of them deal with abuse and neglect, so their behaviors reflect that. It's important to work at a slow pace and be consistent in your interactions, because this might be the only consistency they have. So I would say patience is a great life lesson I have learned.” Samantha Truog, Psychology Major at UW-Stout.
  2. “The biggest life lesson I learned from my internships is that no one really "grades" you. You have to take the initiative to ask your boss/mentor how they think you are doing. The real world is nothing like college!” Kailey Lancello, Retail Major at UW-Madison.
  3. INDEPENDENCE IS HUGE! Watching my interns this summer, they learned about all about intuition, how to make 1 hour worth of work look like 24 hours, efficiency, learning from trial and error, and reading between the lines. The biggest one was them learning how to do things by themselves in a timely manner.” Abby Filcher, Major in Graphic Design and Business Administration at UW-Stout.
  4. Managing people is not as easy or fun as you think it’s going to be. There’s a lot of respect in management and communication is vital. I learned that instead of thinking I wanted to manage events and run them, I decided I wanted to design instead because people are tricky.” Angie Toth, Major in Hotel, Restaurants, and Tourism Management, emphasis in Events at UW-Stout.
  5. “A life lesson that I learned at my summer internship would be to always ask questions; don’t feel afraid to ask a ‘dumb question’ because there is no such thing, and step outside of your comfort-zone because you never know what you’re going to learn.” Brittney Fillafer, Supply Chain Management Major and Business Administration at UW-Stout.
  6. “What I learned over the course of my internship in Florida this past summer, first and foremost, was knowing who to contact when I needed help and who to go to for answers. So, whether it’s just help with a project they gave to you or help with the computer software. Knowing who to be in contact with so you can get everything taken care of in a timely manner to meet your deadlines was a huge, especially when you’re in a place with all new people. Second is good communication. There were a couple of times where the ball was dropped because through the course of my internship we had to do several interviews and because of bad communication we were unable to make it to some of our destinations. So good communication weather it’s through email or over the phone is very, very important. ”Katelyn Lokrantz, Business and Supply Chain Major at UW-Stout.

My biggest life lesson I learned from my own internship was that you gain a family in the people you work with. Before my internship, I told myself that work and personal life were always to be separate. It’s hard to do that though. I lived in a dorm with Stout students, Bulgarian exchange students, and regular local staff who worked at the resort we served. Living in close quarters with these people, they quickly become a part of your regular day, every day. You all are there to work and get experience, but you gain so much more than that. Continue to network with these people for the rest of your life.