How to Survive Your First Internship
Career Path : Career
Everyone has to start somewhere. Your somewhere will be starting with an internship. Whether your internship is paid or unpaid, it will provide the work experience that you need to get your foot in the door in your field. Whether you have someone directly mentoring you and making sure that you are obtaining vital work experience, or simply shown the copy machine and left to languish silently all day long, an internship is what you make of it. It is essential not to waste the valuable experience watching videos or chatting online with your friends. Take the time to read your college news or educational articles to gain ideas of what other interns are accomplishing if you’re unsure.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few tips on surviving your first internship:
Adjust your Expectations
Though you may think of yourself of a Type-A perfectionist who gets everything right on the first try, the work world is different from school and the learning curve even steeper. Just because you got straight A’s in school doesn’t mean that you will start in your position knowing how to do everything or even how to get everything done efficiently. Give yourself the breathing room to learn how to juggle a work load as well as your manager’s expectations. Now’s not the time to be shy, if you are unsure of what’s expected of you, then ask. There’s no shame in being the new kid. It will be much worse in the long run if you make a mistake on one of your requested tasks.
Maximize Your Time
As we as know, not all internships are created equal. Though by taking on an internship you are learning about the world of work, sometimes the only thing that you are actually learning is how to photocopy, collate and unjam the copy machine. However just because you haven’t been given as full a work load as your more permanent colleagues, doesn’t mean you should use the time to get caught up on your social networking. Use this down time as an opportunity to improve your skills and create work for yourself. For example, if you’re completing your internship at a magazine and not being assigned any writing content, use that down time to work on article proposals and ideas for future articles. You never know when the managing editor will ask if you have any ideas at the next staff meeting.
Weigh Your Choices
Alternatively, you don’t have to accept every internship that you are offered. Take into consideration whether your internship is paid or unpaid and whether it will lead to full-time employment. Before taking on a position ask what your responsibilities will be. There’s nothing worse than taking on a position with the most optimistic expectations only to realize the position isn’t what you were expecting. Take the time to speak to other interns if necessary. If your current internship doesn’t meet your expectations on the plus side it will be a great way to network and make valuable connections. And if you’ve found a great internship, then pay it forward and list your school on your company’s network of internship contacts.
At the end of the day an internship is only temporary, from there you will be able to transition your way into a career that you love and working as an intern will be a memory of the past.