College students nowadays have a lot of things to worry about from student debt to housing, but one of the main sources of concern that I have seen in my experience is worrying about the first internship. For most interns, this will be their first time in a professional work environment with their only previous work experience being at the local pizza shop. The following tips below I have found to be extremely helpful throughout the course of my internship.
This is the most important tip, and it is why I’m including it first. When I was driving to my first day at my internship my mind was racing with concerns that I was not qualified enough. “How am I supposed to be a marketing intern when I currently taking my first marketing course? I don’t know anything about what I will be doing! What if they ask me to do something that I don’t know how to do?” This type of fear is known as “Imposter Syndrome” and is very common among first-time interns. What helped calm me down was knowing these two things:
1. They don’t expect you to know much and because of this will give you plenty of training.
2. Help will be there for you if and when you need it.
This is a basic idea but one of the most important. Dress professionally. Pay attention to what others are wearing when you go in for your interview. Overdressing can be almost as bad as underdressing so try and match others attire. Remaining professional also includes coming and leaving on time. Whether your internship is paid or not, treat it as a job because it could influence a future job opportunity.
Bring a notepad! In your internship, you will be learning a lot of new things, whether it be how to operate a website or what it is they want you to do. Think of it as a class in college. Not a BS GE class, an actual class you are interested in but is also difficult to pass. Write down what you are being told when you are being told. Also, ask your supervisor to repeat themselves while they are telling you rather than having to do it later after they have turned their attention to something else. This will keep you more organized and will show your supervisor that you can work independently.
You have two ears and one mouth, be sure to use them in that ratio. Essentially, you should be listening to others twice as much as you are talking to others. Giving your full attention to listening instead of thinking about what you want to say next will greatly improve your understanding of what they want. This tip will also help with taking notes and will help ensure that you only need to be told to do things once.
Ask for Help
The only time the ear-to-mouth ratio doesn’t apply is when you are confused. You are an intern and this is your first time in a professional work environment. Your supervisor expects you to have some questions and would much rather have you ask instead of assuming and messing something up. Besides, a lot of supervisors like answering questions they enjoy being a mentor. However, you should try to reduce the amount of questions that you ask that could have been avoided by taking notes or listening. These avoidable questions show your supervisor that you were not paying attention while they were giving you instructions.
Overall, remember that it is just an internship. This is the time for you to learn more about the industry, ask questions, make mistakes and learn from these mistakes. The internship is a wonderful learning opportunity and you should treat it as such.