Internships seem to have a mixed reputation: some will recall Starbucks runs and exploitation, while others strived and ended up with great job placements afterwards (interning with us at Destination Femme is of course the latter of the two). While each internship experience will vary based on the company, the position, and your attitude, there are some things you learn from an internship that you can take on with you throughout the rest of your life.
Everyone starts from somewhere. Even if it’s at the bottom.
In the words of Drake, “started from the bottom, now we’re here!” Everyone starts from somewhere, and you cannot expect to be in your dream position from day one. Although you may believe that you have more skills than your superior, you have yet to prove that to anyone in the industry. These individuals in superior positions have (most likely) proven that they are capable of achieving the results in real-time, with real money, in a real workplace environment. Take the opportunity of being the underdog by observing what your superiors do, and what workplace skills are needed to climb the corporate ladder. You will do a much better job at the top when you’ve learned the skills needed on the way up.
Networking is highly important, and this is the best opportunity.
Connections are your best bet in getting a job after your internship. In today’s day and age, a paper showing you were able to survive college or university is not good enough. People like to hire people they know and are familiar with. So say hi to everyone you meet at work or at industry events, because that strange, short, balding man that you brushed shoulders with in the office, may be your opportunity to a career of your dreams.
Don’t step on anyone’s toes.
We get it. You’re 110% sure that you deserve that position more than the bitch that you work for, but you won’t get there by crossing her wrath. You never know who may be your one stepping stone to getting your dream job later on in life, so it’s best to not burn any bridges. As much as you would love to cuss her out, growing up is also about learning to keep your cool in a workplace situation. You don’t want to be blacklisted in your industry – references are very important.
Reference letters are a gift.
As previously stated, references are very important, so not only should you seek to get a good one from your boss, you also want to ensure that no one has anything bad to say about you. Within an industry, more people know each other than you think (hence, networking). Your next potential boss might have worked alongside your current supervisor, and your name may have come up in a conversation. Let’s hope you were nice to your supervisor.
New fashions to discover.
You’ll learn that denim cutoffs are not appropriate at most offices, that your blouse should probably be buttoned up another button (or two), and that heels get a lot less cuter when you fear putting them on everyday. Internships are a good place to test out the waters when it comes to what’s fashionably appropriate for your industry so that you don’t walk into your next job interview looking like you’re lost.
You need to be there. Not just physically, but mentally.
It’s easy to go to class, daze off, and learn it all from your textbook later. But in a workplace, you must be mentally alert if you want to do well and standout. Be there not just for the purpose of sitting in that chair – be there to learn, experience new things, and offer your skills. If you notice an opportunity where you feel you can help your team out, don’t be afraid to volunteer yourself.
You also need to be there physically. On-time. And in a good mood.
Sure, it’s not a job, and you may not be getting paid hourly, but you still need to treat it that way. This goes back to your reference letter – do you want your boss to be telling your next employer that you are irresponsible and a bore to work with? The more you are at your internship, the more you’ll learn, and the more you’ll get out of it as your boss sees that you can be relied upon. He or she may give you a bit more responsibility, meaning that they trust you. This is a good sign. And don’t forget your leave your problems at the door, because no one wants to work with someone unpleasant. No matter how many skills you may bring to the table, a negative attitude will not get you a job.
It may not be for you.
If you hate your internship to the point where you dread getting out of bed in the morning, then perhaps this position isn’t for you. The point of internships is to give you a taste of what you may be doing in the future. If you’re hating it now, you probably won’t like doing it for the rest of your life. Don’t feel too bad about quitting internships, and don’t be afraid to try more than one. Whether you like your internship or not can give you signs of what you should be doing in your future career.
Build confidence and don’t be dependent.
In school, you get marked on your work and tests, giving you reassurance that you’re doing well (or not). But it’s not always like that in a workplace. As an intern, you may put in effort and find that you don’t get that reassuring pat on the back. You need to learn how to be confident in your work, and not be dependent on the reassurance of others. Sure, if you have a genuine question of how you can improve things, ask. But if you’re constantly pestering your boss to fish compliments, you’ve got to stop.
Now tell us:
What did you learn from your internship?
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