Since I had my first internship during the summer going into my junior year, I must say that I have really learned a lot. Looking back, there are definitely some things I wish I would have known before jumping into my first internship. In hopes of helping someone who may be getting ready to take on their first internship, I have written some words of advice that I think everyone should know before entering the workplace as an intern.
Don’t be afraid to take initiative
When you first start an internship, don’t feel like you need to constantly wait for your supervisor or boss to assign you your next task or assignment. Your ability to find things that need to be done and think creatively will make you stand out from others in the workplace. Most importantly, it’s a much better way to manage your own time. Your supervisor is most likely very busy on a regular basis and will appreciate you being proactive rather than waiting on him and her to tell you what to do next.
As an intern, asking questions can feel a little taboo at first. It can also be very intimidating. What you need to realize is that your supervisor or boss is there to help you. Asking questions will allow you, as an intern, to get the job done the correct way on a regular basis. Your boss or supervisor would much rather you ask him or her multiple questions throughout the day than for you to complete a task that is not line with their expectations.
Get to know your co-workers
Getting to know people higher up in your organization can be very intimidating, maybe even feel a little bit awkward. Being so low on the totem pole requires you to really go out of your way to get to know others in your workplace. According to Alexander Kjerulf, an international author and speaker on happiness at work, “Socializing with your coworkers is essential for your career.” Don’t be afraid to ask someone out for coffee one day or ask someone if they want to grab lunch. If there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that most experienced professionals love to help out others from younger generations, especially if they work within the same industry.
I believe these three pieces of advice have made me a much better intern in my organization and I encourage others to take what I have said into account as well. As my senior year of college is quickly coming to an end, I can’t help but reflect on some of the amazing opportunities and experiences I have had while attending the University of Oregon. The people I have met and the endless opportunities that have been bestowed upon me these last couple of years cannot be taken for granted.