Interning is a big change from what I’m used to doing during the school year. At college, I’m a writing major—a creative, individualistic, and informal department. While I’ve learned a lot from my classes, there are some summer internship lessons higher education just can’t teach you.
So, I wanted to gain real-world experience before entering the workforce full time. So I decided to dive in headfirst. This summer, I’m taking on not one internship, but two.
Although the summer is only just beginning, I’ve already learned one of the biggest summer internship lessons of them all: ‘The Workplace’ is not actually as corporate and scary as it sounds.
Here are some things I’ve picked up on so far, each sure to help you win the world of work.
1. Details Matter
Proofread everything a million times, because you don’t want to be remembered as the person with the typo problem. It helps to be organized, to set up systems that help you maintain order, and most of all, to pay attention to detail.
2. Prepare to Get Closer to Your Laptop than You’ve Ever Been
Much of my day involves staring at a computer screen from nine to five. That’s not the case for all internships, but if you work in an office, or even remotely, your laptop is a big part of the job.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Be certain you understand the directions provided. It is far better than following the wrong directions.
4. Be Social
Make friends. Get to know your co-workers. Mingle. Just don’t distract people to the point where they can’t do their work.
5. Read the News, Religiously
What’s happening in the world impacts your job, no matter what you do. It’s important to know what’s going on around you—not just in your cubicle.
6. Write Everything Down
You may encounter some convoluted instructions or directions you don’t understand. I’ve learned that taking notes is a lifesaver, otherwise, I’d forget everything within the next second. Jot down keywords when you’re getting directions. Then take a seat and study them. If you stay calm and focused you can usually figure out what you need to do. When in doubt, see #3.
7. Everyone Reports to Someone
You may think your boss is the only boss, but remember he or she is following orders too.
8. It’s Nothing Like the Movies
So far, the working world appears less stiff and conventionally corporate that I’d imagined. People are comfortable with each other, they make jokes, and if they work remotely, they might be wearing pajamas.
9. Feedback is Your Friend
It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s all a part of learning on the job. A big part of the education is learning to take criticism. It’s usually constructive and will help you develop your skillset. Remember, this is why you’re here.
10. Be Persistent
Don’t expect everything to automatically come easily. You have to challenge yourself. Put your time and energy into your work in order to learn and grow.
11. Being Productive and Purposeful is a Great Feeling
Work is very different from school in so many positive ways. Your energy is focused on one particular area rather than being strung out with classes that use different parts of your brain. You are actually doing something directly beneficial for someone or something. So do a good job, and watch your efforts be rewarded. (Free lunch!)
I know that transitioning from college to the working world feels like a shock. Maybe the summer internship lessons I’ve learned can help. I’m sure you’ll learn a few of your own.
For this post, we’d like to thank our friends at Levo.