My summer can be described in one word: work. Even though I worked 40 hours a week for 12 weeks instead of laying by the pool or sleeping in until noon, I enjoyed going into work each day. I was constantly learning something new or making a new connection. I learned a lot not only about the company, but also about myself. I became more confident in volunteering to take on projects, facilitating meetings, and in reaching out to new people. Maybe you were a summer intern as well, maybe you hope to intern somewhere next summer, or maybe you’re just interested in hearing about what I learned. Either way, here are some things I figured out this summer.
1. Go into the summer with an open mind.
I know for me, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know if I would get along with the other interns and my team, and I had no idea if I would enjoy the projects I would be working on. Going into the summer, I knew I had to keep an open mind. I got pulled into some meetings where I had never heard of the topic before and got asked to do many tasks that I was unfamiliar with. I never passed up an opportunity and I think that’s what made this summer a great one.
All in all: be willing to try new things.
2. Ask questions.
This is something I was told to do on the first day. If you don’t understand something (after a few Google searches), ask. This will also show your interest in the topic. On the flip side, make sure to not bombard everyone with questions. Take time to troubleshoot if you run into a problem, or research if you’re interested in a topic. I found it important to find a balance between asking too many questions and not enough questions.
3. Volunteer to take on new projects.
This is where I exceeded. If something looks or seems interesting to you, don’t be afraid to reach out to whoever is involved on that project to learn more. There are so many projects going on and to me, that brings excitement because that means more opportunities for me to learn. This will also show that this internship means something to you and that you want to challenge yourself by taking on new projects.
4. Reach out to others outside of your team.
Making connections is one of the most important parts. You will make connections with your team members, but it may be harder to branch out to other teams. My advice is to simply make a calendar invite and let them know you’re interested in learning more about their job role. Who doesn’t enjoy talking about their passions and what they do?
5. Make friends with the other interns.
I found this to be really enjoyable. You will probably work with employees that are older than you (which is great because you can learn so much from them!), but I also always looked forward to the lunches with the other interns. It was a good time to talk about our experiences, struggles, or just random conversations. You might work with these people in the future, you never know.
Everything this summer exceeded my expectations. I gained experience, confidence, and connections. I recommend applying for an internship, you will learn so many new things about yourself. Take a chance.