Five Lessons I Learned at My Internship

Graphic by Hannah Giles

Graphic by Hannah Giles

You don’t have to have all the answers, but you need to know how to find them.
Also known as being resourceful, knowing how to find answers and solutions has become one of my top skills since becoming an intern. The Internet is surprisingly unhelpful in some situations, so don’t use it as a crutch. Sometimes the person with the answers you need is sitting right there in the office, or may be just a phone call away. I scour news archives, do best practice research and never constrain myself to Google.

Don’t box yourself in.
If you think something is a good idea, pitch it! Don’t sit quietly if you believe it’s a bad idea or out of place for you to make a suggestion. They may tell you it isn’t a good idea, and hopefully why it’s not a good idea, but bringing fresh ideas to the table brings value to your team and shows initiative.

Know your limits.
Sometimes you have to reach your limit to know exactly what it is. Don’t expect balancing an internship, academia and daily life to be easy, but when you reach your threshold, face it and fix it. That might mean setting aside time to review your daily schedule and adjust accordingly, taking a day off to catch up on schoolwork or spending the weekend catching up. You’ll perform better at your internship and school when you alleviate the stress when it starts rather than trying to endure it.

Being early is on time.
There’s an adage that says, “If you’re early you’re on time; if you’re on time you’re late.” For interns, this is especially true. This is a learning process, and when we’re learning we tend to be a little slower. Coming in at least 15 minutes early gives you enough time to jumpstart your day, but I’m usually at my desk 30 minutes before the workday begins. I use that time to check emails, grab some coffee and review my goals for the day. When the clock strikes nine, I’m ready to roll.

Be awesome.
This is mission critical at my internship. The project I’m working on is nicknamed “Team Awesome.” Even if yours isn’t, make it so and call it that.

What lessons have you learned at your internship?

Hannah Giles is a sophomore at the University of Memphis earning her degree in journalism with a concentration in public relations. She is president of her PRSSA Chapter and the Public Relations and Technology Associate at Caissa Public Strategy. You can find her tweeting @hannahrgiles and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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2 Responses to Five Lessons I Learned at My Internship

  1. Heather March 20, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    Another lesson I learned was to take advantage of being around experienced professionals. Since you already have an “in” just by working there, set up informational interviews or ask someone to grab coffee so you can pick their brain about the industry.

    [Reply]

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