How to make the most of your internship.
As a college student, the path towards a future career can be undefined for those who are not presented with the opportunity to earn an internship role. Many individuals pursuing degrees have not experienced the professional world of their chosen field outside of their student experience. Even for myself, I had little to no professional experience leading into my senior year at Midwestern State University. However, after making the choice to enhance my knowledge through an internship, I have witnessed firsthand the policies and practices established businesses employ through my role as an Economic Development Intern with the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce. The following recommendations serve as a guide from my personal experiences, on how I was able to make the most of my internship.
Display Your Character
As the number one controller of your “self-image” ensure that you begin to build your professional reputation on the right pillars. Meaning you should set expectations for yourself based on continuous improvement. Examples can include memorization, accountability, timeliness, professional rhetoric, and sincerity. These expectations practiced avidly will allow your character to shine, and will aid in your overall success in your industry and career.
If you were the chosen intern for a company, you most likely have some traits in common with your fellow coworkers. Building relationships with your fellow coworkers is healthy for the work environment and additionally allows your team to be more cohesive. Whether you inquire about how Samantha’s son performed at his football game, how Tom’s recent motorcycle ride went, or how Miranda’s new puppy is doing, you will form relationships and break the ice with those around you. Establishing a personal, kind rapport will also result in them finding you more enjoyable and have them work better with you while building trustworthiness, mutually.
Network with Those you Meet
During the span of your internship, you will be introduced to, and work with many people, internally and outside of your organization. Use this opportunity to build your professional network and connections with other professionals throughout your community. This will not only allow you to acclimate yourself with the professional community, but also give you the opportunity to branch out, and receive advice, help or references for your future career path.
The advantage an intern can earn is a new internal glance into an esteemed business’s role in the community it exists in. From there, the business allows you to view how the industry practices community involvement for their company. It additionally gives you the opportunity to meet community leaders that you may not have had the chance to interact with.
Practice Continuous Growth
Once you have established an understanding of your role, ensure that you always remain open for growth and quality enhancement by focusing on continuous improvement. Reflecting on where improvement can be made will help you to become the best version of yourself in your internship and future career.
You applied for this role to gain professional experience so make sure you enjoy it! Though you may experience growing pains when adjusting to a new environment, you should feel privileged to undergo this process since it will result in your gain of expertise and knowledge of this chosen field. Remember that there were other individuals who sought to be in the same shoes you are fortunate to be in, so make the most of your opportunity and do not take it for granted!