By: Odun Ishola
The challenge of finding your first internship is one we all face. And after the emotional roller coaster of applications, interviews, rejections and more applications, it all pays off when you get that one job offer. Unfortunately, the work doesn’t stop there! Your first internship sets an important precedence for how well you settle into the position and industry you’re interested in. You want to squeeze as many learning experiences as you can in the little time you’re there. Here are some little tips and tricks to help you do just that.
- ASK QUESTIONS – This is one of, if not the single most important pieces of advice I could ever impact on someone else! Never go in acting like you already know everything. The more questions you ask the more you’ll get out of your internship. Don’t think you have to prove something by acting like you know it all. That’s a disadvantage for you and for your employer! Asking questions shows your willingness to learn. No matter how dumb or stupid you think your question is — ask it! You’ll be better off for it, trust me!
- GO OUT FOR LUNCH WITH CO-WORKERS – See that cool person you’d like to get to know better? Ask them out to lunch! Curious about a co-worker’s process? Ask them to lunch! Bored and don’t have plans for lunch? ASK SOMEONE TO LUNCH! I read somewhere that the first week of your internship should be filled with lunch dates. I think that’s a little excessive, but do put yourself out there a bit. Get to know the people you work with. Even if you just talk about projects from work, it’s always good to put yourself out there and be personable. Lunch outings provide a comfortable environment for you to show a bit of your personality and really see the type of people your co-workers are. It’s also the perfect opportunity to ask those questions you might be too shy to ask in the office. Even though, referring back to my first point, you should be over that by now!
- HAVE FUN AND BE YOU – yes, I know this is a cliché. But it holds a lot of value for a couple of reasons. One, every company you work for has a culture and every employee within that company adds to that culture. By showing who you are as a person, you directly influence the ethnology of the workplace by adding some dynamism to the culture. Secondly, no one wants to work with a robot. You have to be willing to open up a bit and show who you really are as a person. If you’re an awkward, quirky person, be the awkward, quirky person you are. If you’re the outgoing class clown, be that! Don’t hide who you are in order to fit a mold. That does nothing but just ultimately make you miserable. You want to allow people the chance to know you as a person.
- FIND A MENTOR – The hardest part about first internships is the insecurity. There are times you’ll simply not know what to do or how to do it. There are times when you’ll feel inadequate for a project. These are the times you need a seasoned professional who can give you advice on how to move forward. These are the people who really want to see you do well and can be integral to your growth and success. Don’t underestimate the impact a mentor can have because, guess what, once upon a time, they were right where you are! They know exactly what steps to take and what you need to do to move forward.
If you have any other tips for settling into a new internship, comment below, I’d love to know!