Sincerely, The Intern: Finding Your Place
I’ve officially been “The Intern” for two whole months. Those months were crazy, scattered, and full of new things. The “settling in” phase was real. Now that I’m decently established and making my way as a somewhat independent employee, I decided to reflect on what I’ve learned. So, fellow interns, here’s a guide to surviving and thriving in your new habitat.
First, Be DANG Proud of Yourself
You go, Glen Coco! You worked so hard on writing the perfect application and putting together the right interview outfit, and check it out—it worked! Don’t let the full-timers and business veterans scare you into the corner under your desk.
Now that you’re here, werk your intern title. Carry your pride in the way you walk, talk, and get things done. Trust me, if you’re proud of your position, the difference in your work will be tremendous.
But Don’t Get Too Comfortable
I will say, it’s important to feel comfortable in your new work environment. You want to be able to enjoy what you’re doing on a daily basis and have fun with the people around you. But, one thing I learned is to not get too comfortable. If you stop challenging yourself, it can be easy to get burnt out.
Always pushing for inclusion in business meetings and finding new opportunities to shadow someone different and learn something new are great ways to stay out of your little comfort zone. After all, you’re here to learn, so don’t stop learning until the moment you walk out the door on your last day.
Ask ALL the Questions
This is so important as a new intern. There’s no way you’ll ever learn if you don’t ask! People will not only expect you to have questions, but they’ll be happy to answer them. If you’re scared of sounding dumb or throwing out an idea they’ll all hate, get over it. It’s inevitable.
Because here’s the thing: After you ask that stupid question, you won’t ever have to ask it again! So just get it off your chest so you can avoid as many anxiety attacks as possible. Don’t take rejection personally (you know… fall down seven times and stand up eight or whatever).
Keep it Friendly
This may be a “duh” thing to you, and at first I thought it was too. Turns out, it’s a lot harder to be extroverted as the total newbie in a community of experienced professionals. Tough as it may be, I think it may have been the most valuable thing I’ve done so far. Getting to know my co-workers has taught me more about what it means to work here, what our purpose and voice is, and who we are as a group than any studying I’ve done otherwise.
So, get out there! Go get lunch with some people, ask someone to have tea or coffee with you, and ALWAYS participate in the group chats. Having office pals will get you through the tough days.
Set Some Goals
Luckily for me, my awesome intern coordinators set up a goal calendar for my time as an intern here. I have a list of skills and major parts of the company that I will explore and learn each week of my internship. Suggesting a goal calendar to your coordinator is a smart idea—because who doesn’t love a little framework?
If your business hasn’t set goals for you, do it yourself! Come up with a few things you want to get out of your internship whether that’s experience, creating something for your resume, or acquiring a new skill.
Live & Breathe Your Notes
You probably already know that interns basically don’t stop taking notes (they shouldn’t, anyway). Live by that. Write down everything; even the things you think you’ll remember won’t come to your mind when you need them to because of the massive amounts of brilliance you’re taking in.
Now, after you’ve taken the notes: Look. Over. Them. After a meeting, re-read all the things you wrote down. When you first get to work, read all your notes from the day before. It really doesn’t matter if you have time or not: Read. Your. Damn. Notes. Reading your notes a lot minimizes the amount of times you ask the same question, in turn limiting the number of times the ever-powerful professionals call you “intern scum” (jokingly of course…right guys?).
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