Taking that step from being just a student to actually practicing what you’ve learned can be intimidating no matter what profession you are going into. Many of us will be interning in the near future if you’re not interning already. Either way, here are a few things I learned during my internship at Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids about how to be the best intern:
1. This is a learning experience—First and most important, remember internships are essentially a practice round. You are allowed to mess up! Just make sure you are learning from your mistakes and using them to develop as a young professional.
2. Confidence— You may not know exactly what you’re doing but the term “fake it until you make it” has never been more relevant. This is something I personally struggled with starting my internship but it wasn’t until I was forced to figure things out on my own that I realized, I can do this. Which leads me to my next point…
3. Be resourceful— Your supervisor is not going to be thrilled if you are asking him/her how to do something that you could have easily googled. We are the first generation to have tools like Google and YouTube at our fingertips. USE IT. A good example of this would be if you lacked skills in graphic design. If you aren’t familiar with a certain program like Illustrator or InDesign, search YouTube for basic tutorials. With all of that being said if there is something you still can’t figure it out after researching it, then make sure you ask a supervisor or fellow intern.
4. Always ask for more— As interns, we may get stuck with busy work occasionally (embrace it), but don’t let it be your job as an intern to handle only minuscule tasks. When you’re finished printing off those 50 posters, or researching the local news stations four cities over, make sure that you’re asking your supervisor or other associates in the office if they need help on a project that they are working on. This will allow you to get your hands on bigger projects and will give them an opportunity to see that you can handle more responsibility. Trust me, ambition goes a long way.
5. Network—Don’t let the fact that your internship is most-likely temporary get in the way of getting to know the rest of the staff and their position at the company/organization. The same goes for other companies your internship works closely with as well. Make an impression! Remember, your network is what’s going to get you a job after graduation.
Bonus—Your internship supervisor just might be the best connection you make. Get to know them, let them get to know you and most important impress them. If not with your work, then with your desire to learn about the industry and develop as a professional.
If you relate to any of the points mentioned above or have advice to add, don’t hesitate to leave it in the comments below!
-Written by Ashley Mamula, Marketing Assistant at Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids, PRSSA VP of Chapter Development