By: Alli Kelly
I have completed three internships in my time as a college student. Over that time, I have gained many skills and learned more about marketing than I ever did in school. I also learned a ton about office politics, work flow and basically how to keep myself sane throughout the work day.
With that being said, here are some key pieces of advice for anyone currently in an internship or about to start one:
- Meet as many people in the office that you can. You want a support group to help you through tough times or just to answer questions in general. It’s also nice to have someone to go out to lunch with, or even just sit with you in the cafeteria while you munch on Cheese-Its.
- Use LinkedIn to your benefit. That means joining groups to pertain to your career path, reading and sharing articles that you find beneficial to your professional life, connecting with people you know, and stalking people you want to be one day. Networking is crazy important on and off-line. Take advantage of the tools that are given to you, especially LinkedIn; it’s a professional goldmine.
- Bring some things from home to your desk. There have been studies done to prove that people who do not nest, or make themselves feel more at home in a situation, are more likely to leave that situation early. I know that happened for me with my first semester of college. I also never brought anything to my first internship to make it more homey and I remember not feeling very connected. Some things to bring from home include: pictures of your people, your own mug, a favorite pen, fun little trinkets (for me this time around I had a scene marker from the theater I work at), and snacks. I literally had a snack drawer this summer, dedicated to tea, chocolate, money for the vending machine, crackers, nuts and anything else I felt cool with leaving there.
- Sit up straight. This seems totally obvious, but it does wonders if you can maintain it. When we slouch, the muscles in our back elongate and the muscles in our chest shorten – that’s where all that tension comes from when trying to stretch it out. Sitting up straight also helps you feel more awake and motivated to get shit done. (I’m guessing you sat up straighter after reading this!)
- Set goals. A lot of times your supervisor will ask you to set goals, but if they don’t, it’s smart to make some anyway. It will help you stay on track and keep you focused on what you are hoping to get out of the experience. Check-in on your goals every couple of weeks and if some aren’t being met, ask your supervisor for projects to supplement those goals.
- Take a hike. Seriously. Take walks whenever you can throughout the day. I’m the kind of person who can’t sit still for too long, so I follow this advice religiously. It also helps keep my body from getting so tense from sitting in one position. If you work in a creative environment or position, this will also help your brain in finding new ideas and inspiration. And it’s nice to get a change of scenery once in awhile. (Little walks are also a great time to hit up some of those friends you’ve made).
Your first internship can be a scary situation and honestly any new situation is scary. Make it easier on yourself by taking some of my advice (hopefully all of it) and immerse yourself in the professional environment. You’ll end up being more productive, thus kicking some major butt at your new position and I can guarantee your boss will notice.