School is back in session, which for many college students also means the start of a brand new internship. The experience you gain during an internship can be even more valuable than the things you learn in a classroom setting, and can help you land a job when you graduate. So for all of you career-driven college coeds, here 5 important lessons we learned from our intern years…
How to Prioritize
A lot can be thrown at you as an intern. You may have multiple people managing you or a whole list of tasks you’re responsible for. As interns, we first got in the habit of keeping a very tight to-do list, and categorizing tasks into things that needed immediate attention versus those that were ongoing or could be completed by the end of the week.
How to Have a Can-Do Attitude
The one thing that most internships have in common is that there is some level of grunt work involved. When you’re at the very bottom rung on the corporate ladder, you may be asked to complete menial tasks from organizing a fashion closet to sorting through Excel spreadsheets to making coffee runs. (And then if you’re lucky, you maybe also be given the chance to take on bigger responsibilities or put your creative prowess to the test.) But no matter what you are asked to do, don’t have an ego about it. Try to approach every single task with a positive, can-do attitude. Trust us when we say that your superiors will take notice, and this upbeat attitude is something that will follow you throughout your career. You will become known as the intern who gets things done, no matter how big or how small.
What We Didn’t Want to Do
Sometimes an internship feels like a perfect fit and your only concern is whether you can land your dream job with the company once you graduate. And sometimes, well… it’s just not. An ill fitting internship might seem like a waste of a semester, but in fact it can be a valuable lesson in and of itself. Sometimes interning in a certain field or with a certain company might teach you what you don’t want to do, which is just as important as learning what you do want to do. Some people don’t learn this lesson until much later in their careers, so consider yourself lucky if your internship already gave you some insight.
Your Performance at an Internship Can Land You a Job
Take it from Team LC—one of our senior editors started as an intern and worked her way up. While it’s certainly not guaranteed, an internship can lead to a job. So instead of having the attitude that it’s “just an internship,” take it seriously and treat it like a super long job interview. Even if the company you intern with does not have any job openings, the contacts you make can recommend you for a position elsewhere and help you land your first job out of college.
How to Reply All
This might seem insignificant compared to the other points listed, but we think it’s worth noting! Practically every intern we’ve had come our way did not know how to properly use the ‘reply all’ button when they started with us, and neither did we back in our intern days. Email etiquette is something you can take away from practically any internship, no matter what the field. There’s a lot you can learn in a classroom, but this is one of those things that often only comes into practice with hands-on experience in the working world.
What did you learn from your internships?
We’d love to continue this conversation in the comments.
XO Team LC