So, you’ve landed an internship. Congratulations – that’s no small feat. An internship is an excellent opportunity to try out a career field, build skills, and potentially become employed at a company full-time after graduation. But, after you celebrate, there’s just one issue: Now what?
This summer, I have the awesome opportunity to join KMC and learn from those finding huge amounts of success in the industry. I was excited when I got the offer, but after a few minutes the nerves kicked in. I began to think of all the ways I could mess this opportunity up and had imposter syndrome to the max.
However, after being a few weeks into the internship, I wish I could have told myself not to sweat it so much! My first piece of advice is to take a deep breath and remember that you were hired for a reason. Your employers see the potential in you and know what you can offer. However, that doesn’t mean the first few days won’t still be extremely nerve-racking. Here are a few things that I have learned to make the transition from school to internship a little bit easier.
It is a smart idea to meet with your supervisor at the beginning of the internship to find out what their expectations are for you. If your supervisor does not set a meeting with you, take the initiative to do it yourself and ask for a time to meet. What are you expected to accomplish every day? Every week? It is important to fully understand what is expected of you, and check in frequently to request feedback from your supervisor to make sure you are on the right track. Lastly, keep in mind what your own goals are for your internship and what you would like to learn. Discuss your interests with your supervisor and ask if there are opportunities to get involved in those areas.
Take Time to Get to Know Your Co-Workers
Talk to everyone, whether it is the person you are reporting to or other interns. Introduce yourself and get a sense of what everyone does. You never know what these connections will lead to. Maybe someone in the company is doing something you will be interested in later down the line, or the fellow intern might work at a company in the future you would like to work at. Either way, put yourself out there, smile, and ask people questions! You will enjoy the experience more and feel a greater connection to the company. Also, the better job you do and the more familiar your supervisor and other employees are with your personality and your work, the stronger the recommendation.
If things are slow for you, let it be known. Ask other employees if they need help, ask your supervisor for more tasks, do additional research, sit in on meetings if appropriate. Take time to familiarize yourself with the company, what they do, and where you could improve something for them. Take the initiative to offer solutions. For instance, when I agreed to this internship, they never mentioned writing for the blog, but here we are! Generate ideas about what you might be able to work on as a longer-term project to fill downtime and present it to your supervisor. At the end of the day, they are paying you to contribute to their company. You are an asset and should be utilized, whether you have an assignment waiting for you when you walk in or if you have to hunt for it.
Track of Your Projects
At the beginning of your internship, open a new notes tab on your computer. Every day update it with your latest task or newest project. It will help you remember everything you have worked on to update your resume, add to a portfolio, or talk about in future interviews. Before you add anything to your portfolio, ask for permission first! Some things are confidential. However, it is great to track what all you have gained from this experience and will be beneficial for you to look back on later.
Take Your Contacts Out For Coffee (or donuts, a quick walk, etc.)
Either during your internship or after, ask your supervisor and/or other employees if they have 15 minutes for a coffee and chat. Ask about their paths and learn more about themselves. Everyone loves sharing about themselves and their opinion, so ask them for feedback or areas that you need improvement. During this discussion, you will not only feel closer to your coworkers, but learn how to navigate the industry and skills you can continue to build upon!
You are coming in with a LOT of classroom knowledge and experience, so trust yourself. It can be overwhelming going from the classroom to the workplace but remember you are able to contribute in a beneficial way.
Show that you are invested and be confident; you’ll quickly see how that knowledge and your ability can be applied. Also, asking questions is encouraged. You will not be judged for asking for advice or support– your employers know there will be a learning curve! You are there to learn and you are not expected to have all the answers, so relax and enjoy the experience. You will be pushed out of your comfort zone, but that is where you grow and excel, so embrace being uncomfortable!
These are just a few tips that have made my transition from school to internship a bit easier! It also helps that my work is full of awesome people that want to make the transition as seamless as possible. Internships are an exciting time to learn more about a company, the career, and yourself. Make the most out of your short time, it’ll be over before you know it!