By Madison Savaria
Congrats! You’ve finally landed your dream internship after months of stressing, researching, interviewing and even more stressing. Now, you’re most likely occupied with shopping for business casual outfits and rehearsing what to say on your very first day. Although these actions are important, there are more practical, imperative things to prepare in order for you make the most out of your internship! Here are my five recommendations of how to make the most out of your internship:
1. Familiarize Yourself with the Organization and Your (New) Surroundings.
This could be the most crucial aspect of starting an internship. Knowing the background of the organization you are about to live and breathe for the upcoming months can save you a load of embarrassment down the road. Trust me, there is nothing worse than chatting with a coworker, or the organization’s C.E.O. , and not know what he/she is talking about. Familiarizing yourself with how the organization operates can set you apart from the other interns. Impressing your boss in a meeting by simply recounting how a previous project was successful can set you apart from your competition, and maybe even help land you a job with them in the future!
Similarly, your surroundings can serve as a sort of personal confidence while interning for a few months, especially if you happen to be in a new location you’re not so familiar with. For example, you may intern in New York City. As you can imagine, being on your own in the Big Apple can be intimidating, and familiarizing yourself with the neighborhood can serve as positive in more ways than one. Knowing where to get your coffee, or maybe even your boss’ coffee, before you start work can really do wonders to the start of your day. Likewise, knowing the best spots close by to grab a quick-lunch with your fellow interns and colleagues can turn your day around once you realize you do have a life outside of work. (It also doesn’t hurt to make a few friends!) A simple walk around the block before starting your internship will help invoke confidence in your daily life and in turn the months to come.
Trust me, this is going to be the most beneficial thing you do throughout your internship. Establishing a relationship beyond small talk with your boss will not only be beneficial to your work- it will continue to benefit you afterwards throughout life. Remember, they are here to help you! It is important to never be afraid to ask for help with your work or advice for the future. Their experience in the field and their expert advice can only help you become a better professional, so be sure to take advantage of it! Afterwards, when you get a great recommendation from him/her, you’ll be happy you did! Also, don’t be afraid to get to know the interns at your organization- you never know when you’ll need a helping hand, or if you’ll run into them in the future!
3. Do Your Homework
So, you’ve done your homework prior to arriving on day one. Now it’s time to keep up with the research throughout your internship. This will help ensure you are up to date with projects and assignments and don’t fall behind. Always staying ahead of the curve and anticipating what will come next will once again give you an advantage over your competition, and even impress your boss! After work each day, try to spend an hour or so brainstorming how you can come prepared for work the next day, and then do it! We’ve all heard that this profession is not a 9-5 job. This means, sometimes you’ll have to miss out on Grey’s Anatomy to finish an assignment or do additional research for an upcoming project. Don’t worry- it’ll be worth it! (And you can always catch up on episodes online!) Arriving to your internship prepared will ensure stability and confidence in the following day. Starting the day off right can only help you. As the saying goes, “You can never be too prepared.”
4. Be Confident and Don’t be Afraid to Make Mistakes
This is important to remember on a constant basis. Never doubt that you or your skills aren’t good enough for the task at hand. You are an educated, brilliant young-mind who wouldn’t be in the situation you’re in if you weren’t qualified. It can be intimidating going into a new situation where you are surrounded by professionals and maybe even a few “super interns.” But, that is not reason to question your talent! It is important to remember that you have all the capabilities and confidence that anyone else has, and a positive attitude can take you far! In order to make the most out of your experience, be prepared to give yourself a pat on the back when you deserve it. An air of confidence is essential to succeed in the PR world, and your internship is the perfect place to practice! It is also important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, so don’t blow it out of proportion if you do, too. You’re an intern, you’re supposed to be learning, and that includes learning from your mistakes. If you do this, you will be all the better for it when your internship comes to an end.
5. Stay in Touch With Your Mentors & Co-Workers
Time and time again, we have heard that networking is key to succeeding in this profession. Well, it’s the truth! Your internship is the perfect place to network throughout your organization and keep in touch with these contacts, especially your boss. Not only will your relationship (that you already established) grow stronger, but you will continue to make a good impression that will stick in your boss’ mind for years to come. Sooner than later, potential employers will ask for recommendations from your previous internships, and you will want to make sure you get a good one! Maintaining the relationship you formed for months is essential to making your internship worthwhile. This is an essential ingredient in ensuring you are putting your best foot forward toward your future. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll run into each other at a Penn State tailgate and be able to reminisce about your first internship experience, and how he/she helped make your career. (Here’s to hoping!)
Good Luck, Interns!