If anything is a constant for undergrads—aside from lack of sleep—it’s the never-ending search for the next, best internship. The search is reminiscent of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz following the yellow brick road. Except in the real-life scenario, Oz is a full-time job and an apartment, and the bricks are often red.
My internships throughout my time as an undergrad at The Ohio State University came together in the end to form a diverse collage of experiences—from working at the Canadian Parliament as an intern in the House of Commons to being a public relations intern at an advertising agency in Philly—all leading me to Bliss Integrated Communication.
Reflecting on my internships and time spent as an Associate Account Executive at Bliss, I realize how much these experiences can help to reveal hidden truths about yourself both personally and professionally. Here are three insights that I have gleaned from a wide variety of internship positions held over the past few years:
Have as many experiences as possible
Not all of my internships directly related to my majors (political science and strategic communications) but they all taught me something important. For example, working as an English tutor with young children in France taught me how to communicate simply and effectively. Even if the skill you gain from your internship experience is as simple as having the courage to pick up the phone and reach out to a reporter, it is worthwhile and will benefit you in the long-run. In any job or internship, look for the takeaway and how certain projects may have helped you to grow and bolster your skills set—sometimes it’s in an unexpected place.
Find your niche
The purpose of your internship is to find the point where what you’re good at and the type of work you enjoy doing overlap. For example, you may think you excel at public relations, but if you’ve never written a bylined article or picked up the phone to pitch to the media, how do you really know? Of course, you shouldn’t expect to be a master at these skills immediately, but at least you will have a sense of your comfort level, what piques your interest, the areas you need to further hone and, eventually, where you could see yourself thriving.
Capitalize on your experiences
Whether it’s asking for a role model’s business card or learning about a new subject, make the most of your time as an intern. You’re there to learn! Always ask superiors, “What can I do to improve?”
At the end of the day, your experience as an intern should be a good one. If it is not how you imagined, find ways to make the best of it. Some methods to help improve your situation may include asking a new coworker to coffee or taking the initiative to set personal goals related to your work, such as improving your writing skills or learning more about social media strategy. If you loved your experience, it is critical to stay in touch with your colleagues and connect via LinkedIn, because you never know when a position might open up. No matter what field you end up in, your internship experiences will only make your skills set more robust when you start on your eventual trip to “Oz.”
How are you making the most of your internship experiences? We’d love to hear from you.
Photo Credit: Chris Barron, Flickr.