Going into the summer, I did not know what to expect from my first internship. I had never worked in a professional environment before, didn't have any work pants or nice blouses and wasn't exactly sure what I would even be doing all summer long. However, over nine weeks later, I realize that I am so much more thankful for this experience than I ever thought I could be. It has been a great ride and I am sad to see it end, but know I will take these lessons with me wherever I go.
1. It gave me the confidence to ask questions
Working with people who have been at a company for sometimes longer than you have been alive and know the ins and outs of every little thing can be intimidating to work with. While at first I was too shy to ask questions, I realized that this knowledge was so second nature to them that they didn't even consider that someone else doesn't understand what they mean. This gave me the confidence to ask questions and ask for explanation when I didn't understand what was going on.
2. It taught me how to write a professional, yet casual, email
One of the most difficult things to master is a professional, but still casual, email. I started off too formal. Always started my emails with "Dear," and signed my emails with "Sincerely, *insert full name*." I quickly learned that this was considered slightly weird and then toned it down to a "Hi!" and "Thanks, *insert first name ONLY*" to become a master at the business casual email.
Also, I learned that the subject line should be super specific to what the email is about instead of a few, vague words. Who knew!
3. It taught me to be accountable for my work
In school, the accountability you have for your work only goes so far. You aren't accountable for it, you get a bad grade. That is about it. But at a job, if you aren't accountable for your work, it could cause the company to lose money, fall behind on projects, cause complaints, etc. There is a lot more at stake when working for a company that is bigger than yourself, which means you have to be extra diligent and accountable for everything that you do.
4. I learned that it is important to have a purpose
Where I worked, every single person would talk about their purpose. What makes them get up in the morning, go to their job, work extra hours, and so on. They said that if you don't have a purpose that means a lot to you, you will get burnt out and not enjoy your job after a few years. I now know that wherever I end up working, I need to have a purpose for doing what I am doing in order to stay focused on the bigger picture and my happiness.
5. I discovered that interns, and our work, are important
I think the biggest thing I am taking away from this summer is that interns are important. Interns are essential. We are not always just a person who shows up for a few weeks, gets everyone coffee and then is forgotten about. Interns are an important part to their team that keeps the projects moving forward and make sure that the deadlines are met. I didn't realize how important I was to my team until I had to leave. We do and complete meaningful work that helps the company more than I ever thought possible.
If you had asked me in the beginning of the summer if I thought the work I would be doing would have an impact or be essential, I would have said no. But now I know that what I did this summer helped my team by making their lives a little easier and helped my company with my contributions, which is more than I could have ever asked for.