This summer I had the exciting opportunity of completing a semester-long internship. I've completed a few different internships in the past, but this was my first full summer interning at a hands-on company. No matter where you're working, being an intern is an experience unlike any other. It's not a part-time job that you get just to pay the bills, and it's not an experience which will be useless to you; internships are vital to not only building your resume but also growing as a student.
So, after completing my 12-week long internship, I've come up with eight lessons that I think are most important to achieve when you're an intern:
1. Make meaningful relationships with not only the employees, but also your fellow interns.
Networking is one of the most important things to indulge in, especially at the young age of a student intern. The people you work with and for will be important connections to hold on to as you start applying to entry-level jobs post-college, so make sure to say hi's and bye's at the beginning and end of the day, and have conversations with those around you - those simple actions are the foundation of meaningful connections.
2. Take notes on your progress, the work you do, and things that you like and don’t like.
Every day, I wrote down the tasks I worked on, and every now and then I would write a little entry for my own records, taking note on how I was feeling about the work that I was doing and the progress that I was making. Whether it's for the future job interview you'll be preparing for or for the sake of your personal memory, having the details of your internship written down will benefit you down the line.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor questions or ask for help.
Having an open line of communication with your superiors is absolutely vital if you want to establish a strong relationship. As well, you should feel comfortable asking for pointers, especially if you aren't understanding what you should be doing.
4. Learn how to communicate professionally with everyone you work with.
The ability to communicate in a mature and professional way is impressive, especially if you are able to reciprocate the communication around you; learn from and adapt to the environment which you are immersed in.
5. Ask for constructive criticism and grow from it.
On top of open and mature communication, learning from constructive criticism is so important to the growth in your internship and professional career and you should not be afraid of hearing how you can do better.
6. Work hard and efficiently, no matter what your task is.
Sometimes, you get to work a few minutes late on a rainy Monday with no coffee in hand and you just are not in the mood to do anything, let alone be productive. On that day and during those seemingly insignificant tasks that you were assigned, remember the bigger picture. Remember to work hard, because you earned this internship and with every day and every task you are in that position, you are investing in your future.
7. Be independent in your work.
It doesn't matter if you are one of five or thirty interns, you should be able to confidently produce your own, original finished products. Asking for other opinions and perspectives is great, but remember that you were hired because of who you are.
8.You are of way more importance than you think.
The most important takeaway is that you are an asset to the company and employers that you are interning for, and that that should not be left without personal recognition. Odds are, your supervisor is going to be endlessly grateful for all of the assistance and work you provided, especially if they see that you enjoyed working there, worked hard, and grew throughout the process.
I'm the biggest proponent about getting out of your comfort zone, experiencing new places and people, and constantly aiming to learn new things and that's exactly what an internship provides you! So don't be afraid to make mistakes and grow out of your comfort zone during this important experience, but the most important part is to reflect on your internship and understand all of the things that you have gained throughout the process.