I have been blessed to have had three full time internships in the passed three years. Each experience has been unique in the lessons that I’ve learned along the way. Each lesson has positively impacted the next experience and ultimately allowed me to become a better individual professionally.
It behooves me to share my top ten lessons learned which will hopefully be used as recommendations in helping future interns and young professionals excel during their experiences!
Below are the top ten lessons I’ve learned:
1. Be Confident: After all, you were qualified enough to be selected for the position; therefore, you should be content in knowing you have something worthy of investing in. Be buoyant and assured that you already have what it takes to succeed. Don’t confuse this with being cocky. As an intern you are the underdog, not the C.E.O.
2. Act as a Sponge: Take it all in! It is soooo important to absorb as much knowledge as you can from everyone you meet. Each person has something unique to teach you whether it is how to be committed to a career for a long number of years, how to advance yourself to the career of your dreams, or even things to never do. Listen up and soak it all up, like a sponge of course!
3. Communicate: Respond promptly and professionally in all written and verbal communication. If there is something that you don’t know or understand, ask for help. And ask quickly! Do not assume that you are understood either, clarify. Be sure to keep communication open. Be willing to take advice and guidance and also be willing to communicate your concerns and challenges.
4. Do the Work: You have to be willing to work! After all, that is what you were hired for. There is always someone observing your performance and you want to make a good impression. Minimal efforts will be frowned upon so be sure to go above and beyond expectations. Job performance is one of the main things that qualifies you for rehire after an internship or for a promotion.
5. Be Curious: Learning and completing day-to-day tasks is one thing, but you’d be surprised at how much more there is to know! Seek additional opportunities for development such as attending meetings and asking for special projects. Your interest in learning more and doing more will be impressive, but be cautious not to appear dissatisfied with your current position.
6. Pitch In: Add value to the company! Take things up a notch by going above and beyond in all that you do. If you’re expected to complete a task, do that and then some! Be open and willing to lend a helping hand where needed even if more work is required. This will increase your exposure and broaden your knowledge and skills.
7. Challenge Yourself: Ask yourself “What more can I do?”! You should be learning more than you expected, otherwise challenge yourself to do something more. Creating a final project or presentation is great way to challenge yourself. It will be more work, but will also yeild more rewarding end results.
8. Learn From Mistakes: Do not be afraid to mess up. You are an intern/young professional, not a 30 plus year employee. Mistakes are forgivable as long as you learn from them and practice not repeating them. Also, learn from other people’s mistakes if you witness them or if they share them with you. That way you will avoid future mishaps. If you’ve never failed, you’ve never truly succeeded.
9. Connect: Take advantage of mentorships and networking opportunities. Meet and get to know as many people as possible. You never know who will help you in the future or who you will return the favor to. Business cards are impressive and exchanging them with professionals will make you stand out even more. Be sure to follow up with an email or phone call to solidify the relationship after meeting someone new. This turns “Met”working into networking. It’s never too early to begin building your network.
10. Be Grateful: It is truly a privilege to have an internship or to be a young professional building your career! Appreciate your experience no matter how it is for you! Give handwritten thank you notes, cards, or other tokens of appreciation. This is an investment in your future that many people don’t have. Be thankful for each experience and be sure to show the company that you are grateful! 🙂
By Verinique Bailey, “The V. In Virtue”