6 Things That Every Summer Intern Needs to Know
Maddie is currently a senior at Lafayette College with a major in International Affairs and Spanish and a concentration in Human Rights and Social Justice and the Middle East and North Africa. She spent her summer working at the Global Experiences Headquarters in Annapolis, MD… and loved every second of it!
"Interning can be the best experience, or it can be the worst. MY experience was a Global Experience, and here's what I learned."
1. There is more to everyone than meets the eye
Shocking… I know. However obvious this may seem, it’s easy to associate someone with their work persona and forget that they exist beyond that. Just because someone seems to be a certain way in their office life, doesn’t mean that they are like that in their real life. Okay, I guess the office is real life, but you understand. That guy you sit next to? He actually spent 3 years working in Korea and traveling around Asia. The IT dude who somehow knows everything? He immigrated from Pakistan when he was in middle school. Take the time to talk to your coworkers about their life away from their desk, and you just might learn some really cool stuff.
2. You’re an intern… Remember that
*Sigh* It’s hard to accept that the intern in the lowest woman (#feminism) on the totem pole, but it’s true. As an intern, you need to learn to listen to others, take direction, work hard, and smile the entire time. It’ll be hard, but it’s worth it. You’ll go unnoticed a lot of the time, but the hard work pays off when you have those small, but precious, moments of praise. Also, don’t get offended if some of your coworkers use a twinge of sass when speaking to you, just kill ‘em with kindness!
3. BUT... Don't be afraid to speak up!
Yes, you’re an intern, but that doesn’t mean that your opinion doesn’t matter! Interns can actually offer really valuable insight. Chances are high that you’re younger than a lot of the people working in your company, so your opinions are key when it comes to basically anything relating to social media, marketing, or anything technologically inclined. Speak up! Employers love interns who show that they care and are genuinely invested in their work by making their opinions known (without sounding like an jerk).
4. The work hours are what you make of them
The working hours don’t last forever, so make them count! You want to soak up as much knowledge as you can, every time you work. Sure, there will be times when you feel bored and honestly only want to look at Buzzfeed articles or try to nap in the corner… Don’t let that become a reality! Drink a cup of coffee, splash your face with some water, and ask any/everyone if there’s anything that you can do to help. These things don’t go unnoticed, and it’ll make the day go by quickly!
5. Money isn’t the only way to get paid
Internships rock, BUT a lot of times they’re unpaid. At first, it can be hard to accept that, and you may even feel JEALOUS of your friends working at an ice cream shop... Snap out of it! There is SO much more to be gained from an internship than just money. Experience is the most stable form of currency out there. Instead of focusing on financial gain, focus on the experiential gains. You’ll learn how to use new software, do new things, and better ways of doing the things that you’ve always done!
6. Be Open and Kind… and Rise Above the Drama!!!!
This is the last, and arguably most important, thing that I've learned. As a person, you are no better, or lesser, than anyone that you work with. Not everyone will share your opinions, or like what you like, but everyone deserves your respect. Everyone is fighting some sort of battle (it’s cheesy, but you know that it’s true!) and everyone deserves to work in a place full of kindness and open minds. As an intern, you most likely won’t be working there forever, so you have a great opportunity to be that shining, happy, beam of light while you’re there.
Finally, rise above the drama. There will be days when it takes every single ounce of your being to not scream at the people around you… don’t do it! Don’t engage in petty gossip or collective eye rolls. You’re lucky to have your internship, so appreciate it! Be friendly, helpful, and smile a ton… and you'll be the favorite employee just in time for the summer to end ;)