Important Lessons to Learn from Internships

Internships allow college students to gain professional skills in their desired career path before entering the job market after graduation. It can be daunting for recent college graduates to try and find a job and, in an increasingly competitive job market, having one or more internships on your resume can help you stand out to employers.

In addition to being great resume boosters, internships can also teach you valuable life lessons that will help you become a more confident and capable professional. If you are in the process of looking for an internship or have one secured for the upcoming summer, here are some important lessons you can learn during your time as an intern.

Communicate Professionally

For many first-time interns, working in a professional environment can be overwhelming and difficult to adjust to. Learning to communicate professionally, whether it be in-person, over the phone, or through email, is a great skill to work on during your time as an intern. Talking with your supervisor, boss, or client is a lot different than the casual conversations you have with friends and family, so make sure to present yourself appropriately to make a good first impression.

Network

Internships provide students with great networking opportunities. Although COVID-19 has caused many workplaces to be remote, if you have the opportunity to return to the office, take the opportunity to grab coffee with other interns or co-workers. Do not be afraid to introduce yourself to people outside of the department you are working in as this can help you learn about other parts of the company that might interest you. This is a great way to make friends in the office and also create lasting professional relationships with your co-workers. These relationships can prove to be very helpful in your job search after you graduate.

Set Goals

It is important to set goals for yourself toward the beginning of your internship. You can start by asking your supervisor what their expectations are for you to get a better sense of what some of these goals might be. You should also set goals about what you hope to learn during the internship and plan ways to reach these goals. These goals can relate to the actual work you are doing as well as personal goals that you hope to reach during your time as an intern.

Manage your Time Efficiently

Being on time for work and making sure you have projects done on time is an important aspect for any career, whether it be an internship, co-op, or full-time job. Learning how to manage your time effectively can be difficult if you have never held an internship or worked in a professional environment, but you can make sure to stay organized by making lists and deciding which tasks are the most important and complete those first.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions

Internships serve as excellent learning opportunities that allow for professional and personal growth. If you are confused about a task or have a question, do not be afraid to reach out to your supervisor or another employee in the office to ask for help. Your co-workers understand this might be your first “real” job so they will expect there to be questions along the way.

Keep in Touch

Once your internship is over, make sure to stay in contact with your supervisor and co-workers. This could eventually lead to a full-time job down the line and they can provide helpful advice as you navigate your future career.

Have Fun!

Internships are a great way to supplement the knowledge you get from the classroom and help you gain real-world experience in your desired field before graduation, but remember, they are also supposed to be fun! Try to enjoy yourself as much as possible and make the most out of your internship.

If the internship search process feels overwhelming to you or if you have not been able to find one yet, meeting with a career coach at the Center for Career Development will allow you to discuss your career-related plans and receive advice about how to move forward. Click here to schedule an appointment today!

By Emma Gehr
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