The classroom is not always the best place to learn about the real world. Most of the time you’re just half-assing assignments and staring at all the beautiful girls you go to school with (unless you’re in a hard-science major. Sorry bud).
So how do you prepare yourself for a grown-up job? Internships… Word on the street is that experience is only becoming more important. An internship is your chance to learn and gain the experience that will make you an attractive hire. But you already know this.
So let’s say you took advantage of that knowledge and got a rad summer internship. What do you need to know? Here are a few of the most important tips I have after a week at my internship at an ad agency:
- Do everything. Don’t pass up an opportunity to meet someone or go somewhere with people you work with. Happy hour? Trivia night? Some random meeting? Do it. You’ll meet a lot of important people.
- Maintain relationships. That creative director you met at the bar last night? Stop by and say hello! Hopefully you remember his name… You never know who will take an interest in you, just show some initiative. Networking, need I say more?
- Take full advantage. Not just of any sweet perks you’re offered. Work hard, finish your assignments, then ask for more. Learn as much as you can, ask questions and offer input. They know you’re an intern, don’t be afraid to act like one.
- YOUR JOB IS TO MAKE YOUR BOSS’ JOB EASIER! Whether you like the sound of that or not, it’s definitely true. Companies wouldn’t hire extra people if they could handle all the work they have already. Be your boss’ third (and possibly fourth) hand. I’m not saying get him coffee. Just do your work well and in a timely manner. Meet with him to review your work, and follow any advice(criticism) you’re given. Always ask for more work. Be awesome.
- ALWAYS carry a pen and something to write on! You’ll get overwhelmed quickly if you don’t keep some sort of to-do list. I also like writing my assignments out before typing them up, because I can make edits easily and take notes as my boss offers critiques. Also good for brainstorming sessions…
- Be best friends with the other interns. Especially the ones you work the closest with. I’m lucky enough to work in a shared cube with 4 other awesome interns. I have someone to eat lunch with every day, people to tell me where the bathroom is (because I’m still getting lost at RPA…), and people to offer me advice. Plus they are probably just as awesome as you.
- Have Fun! As cheesy as this is… it’s important. You have the freedom to explore and learn. As an intern, you aren’t expected to know everything or be perfect. Take time to meet people, experience new things and just enjoy yourself.
I’m trying to live by these “rules,” and so far I’m having a great time! I’ve learned a lot, met a bunch of people and I’ve been working on a lot of projects. Hopefully you get the chance to try these things out, and they make a difference for you. It’s always nice to have someone tell you what they wish they knew on day one!