Internship Advice (From One Intern to Another)
So, you have your internship. Now what? As a young student with no previous experience in a professional setting, my assimilation process into the corporate world has been an interesting ride. Joining a small company that accomplishes big things in an efficient and commendable manner has forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and get over my irrational fear of growing up and becoming a working adult. When I first learned that I would be a Recruiting Intern at Helios HR over the summer, I feared that I would seem incompetent to others because of my age and inexperience in this type of setting. When I started my job, I was quickly welcomed by a group of extraordinarily hardworking individuals. All of my fears were dispersed by the welcoming atmosphere that is Helios HR. For any future intern, you will soon start to realize that people are your biggest asset. However, part of making a smooth transition into being a successful intern is being prepared for it. Here are the most important things I’ve learned and would like to share with both employers and future interns in any industry:
Make sense of your environment
Sense making fills gaps in the organizational processes we don’t understand. Making sense of things happening around us plays a crucial role in the determination of human behavior and collective organizational behaviors. It is a way to understand how an organization works and offers knowledge about the reality of how individuals engage with each other in that entity. It allows us to understand our actions through reflection of our own behavior; we realize what we're good at, what we can fix, and what we can sustain behaviorally. In fact, it is human nature to make sense of our environment and plays an important role in understanding how your organization works. Observe, listen, and make sense of your role in the company!
Never say no
An opportunity missed is an experience lost. You are there to learn, and any time you say “no” to a learning experience not only says a lot about your lack of reliability to your co-workers, it says that you are not confident in your ability to try something new. Don’t be afraid! Your co-workers know you are there to immerse yourself in work and new experiences, so don’t hesitate to participate and say yes! Taking on new and unfamiliar assignments can be difficult, so don’t be afraid to ask for help before you’re too far into your work. Just make sure you can prioritize your assignments before you jump into a new task.
Know when to communicate information digitally and in person
Although social media platforms allow us to keep track of each other, the overuse of technology in the workplace can lead to a sense of depersonalization. In some cases, workers are seen as disposable due to a major lack of face to face communication and emotional connection between employees and management. The biggest issue with the use of technology in the workplace is not recognizing the appropriate time to share information over the computer. It’s hard to show personality over email! Get up and talk to people! In the case that you are working for a company that calls for quite a bit of digital communication, make sure you use full sentences, correct spelling, proper greetings, and the correct tone. While it’s hard to show who you are through a computer, it’s easy to write a sloppy email – be professional.
Let your passion shine through your work
Although it may be hard at first to showcase your personality and will to succeed, let your work do all the talking for you. Showing your co-workers just how passionate you are even though you may not be able to express that in words, results will speak louder than anything that could ever come out of your mouth. People like to see results, and giving your supervisors and co-workers a tangible example of how much you care will do wonders for your reputation in the office. Carrying out your work with passion will not only give you a good reputation, you’ll make long lasting connections with people who may want to work with you in the near future. Don’t let this experience slip through your fingers – make a lasting impression.
Bring a pencil and paper everywhere you go
Especially for someone with a terrible memory, a pencil and paper can act as your second brain - remembering small details and executing assignments thoroughly will impress your supervisor. Prioritize your assignments based on due dates and importance. Crossing everything off your to- do list at the end of the day is one of the best feelings in the world. If you’re the type of person who only uses a computer– utilize Microsoft Outlook to keep track of meetings and assignments.
Know why you are there and what you aim to achieve
Before you start your internship, make sure you set some time aside with your supervisor to discuss what you’d like to get out of this experience. Write down a few goals for yourself and have your supervisor write down goals for you as well. Letting your supervisor know why you are there might alter the way your internship is structured. Some companies are very flexible around the interests of their interns and are willing to assign tasks based on those interests.
Ask for feedback
Especially if you have no prior work experience, it is imperative to gain insight on what you are good at and what you can work on. Although stepping into a brand new environment is terrifying, you shouldn’t let nervousness impede your willingness and ability to communicate. Your co-workers are aware that you are new and most are willing to help you assimilate into this new setting. Instead of making nervous mistakes, take the time to communicate any concern, work with information you already have, and learn when to ask questions. If you don’t need to be micromanaged are able to work independently, supervisors will LOVE you.
Stay healthy and keep energized
Although people often vow to keep their work life separate from their personal life… it’s impossible. Work is just a part of your life and the key to keeping a balance between the two sustaining a positive and productive mental state about life in general. At work, keep your energy up and your smile on, but once you clock out for the day, do whatever makes you happy and keeps you refreshed for your next day of work. Having a good day has to do with the attitude we have in every conversation and every experience. Staying energized and on top of your game will keep you focused on your end goals. Eat healthy, feel good, stay happy, and be grateful for your experience. Be someone you would want to work with. One last note - coffee and caffeinated tea will become your new best friend.