Maybe that time has come, you have an internship, you have your housing in place, your schedule in writing, your start date finalized. Now, it’s the beginning of summer, and you may feel like you’re waiting at the bottom of a thousand story hotel, with a mile long train of elevators, and crowds of other students waiting to be noticed. How do you make the most out of this opportunity? I can’t speak from my own experience, so I asked a friend who graduated —and was an avid interner while in school—what he thought made for the best internship experience. He gave me three practical points to intern by:
First, find the right internship (this may have better served us several months ago) but it’s too true to ignore. There’s a lot of advice out there that says, work hard, go above and beyond, find a way to stand out, be positive at work. This is decent advice, however, the key to all of this is not to struggle through every day, forcing yourself to go above and beyond and plastering on a smile, but to make sure that you are working in the right place. If you and your internship are the right fit, then naturally you will fall into all the above categories. Of course, internships are also an opportunity to explore a certain aspect of the job force and see if it is right for you. And not all employers are created equal. So if you find yourself in an industry, or at a company, that isn’t a good fit, take comfort knowing that you’re one step closer to discovering what you want you do want to do. Instead of trying to force yourself to love something that isn’t right for you, look for that aspect of the job that you do enjoy, do the best you can, and think about how those aspects could be translated into a career.
Second, always bring something to write with and write on. Then write everything down. Everyone forgets things, and it’s great to have a place where you can reference names, assignments, experiences. If you write everything down, you will never be the employee with nothing to do. You will always be one step ahead. When you finish one project you will be on to the next. Even better, you will become indispensable, because you will be the one who remembers things other people, even your employer, forget. One of the most crucial aspects of an internship is to become a resource, not just a fixture, at a company. (Plus all of those notes will come in handy if you ever find yourself writing a blog for a university internship and career website.)
Third, make friends. This is not to be confused with networking, or networking’s ugly cousin called schmoozing. This isn’t a quick meet situation; you have months ahead at these internships, so really get to know the people you work with. They’re not only the people who will help you find a job after graduation; they are the people who know the best places to live in the new city you’re moving too; they are the people who will make your job enjoyable through the rough or boring parts; they are the people who you’ll start spending time with after work. Like finding the correct internship, making friends does all the work of networking and so much more.
These are some of the best pieces of advice I have gathered through my own search, but I’m sure there are plenty of others out there. Let’s keep our eyes open and ears out for advice, mentors, and opportunities, so that we can all continue learning through the summer. Happy interning.
Our blogger is a Junior RTVF and Weinberg student looking for an internship in New York City for this summer. Follow them as they share their story of an internship search.