Jessica Goldman
Graphic Designer

blog

BLOG

That intern life though...

Somehow, in my four years of college, I managed to pile up a total of eight internships. Yes, eight (I was insane). While I've had my share of ups and downs, and by no means was a perfect intern (I made countless mistakes on many occasions,) I learned a hell of a lot. Being an intern is hard; you most likely aren't getting paid, and you have to balance a new company with school and extracurriculars and somehow not lose your mind.

But internships are crucial. They teach you what you like to do, what you don't like to do, and what industry you can or can't see yourself working in. And having internships helps you stand out amongst the thousands of eager beavers applying for the same job as you. I'll share some tips I've learned with you (some I wish I had figured out before starting an internship instead of after, but whatever, not bitter...)

Before you say yes:

1. Only take on an internship if you can commit wholeheartedly to it. I made the mistake of taking on a lot of responsibilities my senior year, and spread myself way too thin. I found myself doing other work during my internship when things got slow, and I felt awful about it. I highly recommend finding balance and sticking to it as much as possible. Even if it means letting go.  You'll make for a better intern.

2. Choose to get paid for your work, unless it is something you REALLY want to do. College is the time you can actually get away with not getting paid (i.e. non profits) and still feel relatively good about yourself.

3. Make sure they have clearly defined your role. Ensure you really know what you will be doing and what is expected of you as much as possible to make sure it is a right fit.

Before your first day

1. Don't be afraid to ask those questions, like the dress code, bringing lunch, do I need my laptop, etc. They may seem dumb, but it is totally okay to ask. You don't want to show up in a suit when your office wears jeans and tank tops to work.

2. Calculate the time it takes to get to work, and multiply that by 30 percent. Leave 10 minutes earlier than that. If you are too early, hit up Starbucks. You'll soon be able to figure out the time it takes to get to work, but being late your first day is not how you want to start your internship.

During

1. Show up early as much as possible (but no more than 5-10 minutes.) It helps to give you time to set up, read any emails, and double check anything that needs to be turned in.

2. Take the time to be careful and meticulous, but don't spend so much time on a project that you are the reason something is delayed. Most work environments are fast-paced, and though it is tough, as an intern, you need to adapt to that.

3. Google. Google. Google. It is your best friend. Accept it.

4. But also don't be afraid to ask - they'll be grateful you asked instead of spending hours trying to figure something out that only they would know.

5. Say yes to everything, unless it is absurd or definitely NOT in your job description (especially if you are unpaid.) Be the intern people trust with tasks, even as simple as mailing something or running an errand. 

6. Don't be afraid to ask if there is work to be done. A lot of times as an intern you run out of tasks or complete something quicker than expected. Your boss is busy - take the time to see what they need help with because more often than not they need help and are forgetting to ask you.

7. If there are other interns, take advantage and bond with them. Work will be so much more enjoyable having friends to grab lunch with or even just say hi to on your way to grab coffee. 

After

1. Stay in touch with your supervisors, and other interns if applicable. I always failed to do this and I regret it. Staying in touch every so often, whether an email or text, isn't just professional and polite but can get you a job later on. I'll never regret more than not staying in touch with some of my supervisors. Plus, the more you stay in touch the better of a reference they will be down the line.

2. Send them a gift or thank you note. It'll make you stand out, because most interns just leave without leaving something of them behind.

3. Whatever your feelings are about your internship, take everything with a grain of salt and know that it was a learning experience. Always see your mistakes as opportunities, because having regrets will only keep you bitter. And who wants that?

Jessica GoldmanComment