Monday, January 29, 2018

6 Important Things My Internships Taught Me

Okay... that is a totally irrelevant picture, but I am just missing warm weather. It's cold and rainy, and I'm currently wrapped in a blanket as I write this. Anyone else dreaming of a sunny and 75 kind of day? Because same. Anyway, recently I was asked to speak about my experiences on an internship panel at my school. It's crazy to think that people are coming to me for advice when I was just in their shoes a few months ago. Quite a bit of my readers are college students themselves, so I thought I would share important takeaways and advice to you all. 

These aren't internship-specific, and really can be applied whether you're getting ready to enter college or you just got your first job right out of college.

I have done two internships back-to-back. One was a semester-long "office" 9-5 environment, and the other was a full-time, 10-week traveling internship during the summer. The two could not be more different, but that's exactly what I was looking for. That's how you find your future career path, right? RIGHT?! The two were so different, but I can't help but have a few similar takeaways. 

Sure, the internships are about building your resume, networking, and a full-time job offer, but the experience and personal growth has far surpassed things I can put on a piece of paper.

I talk about them quite a bit, but as a PR major, internships are very important. The word "internship" is overused in my opinion. Any company can hire a college student for the summer to do anything and call it an internship. I tried to apply to established internship programs because 1) it stands out more on a resume if an employer recognizes the program and 2) an established program usually has more than one intern, so it creates a community with other people on a similar path as you.. great for future networking! 

This post is pretty wordy so bear with me....

Never Stop Learning | This one is definitely a wake-up call. It's so easy to get caught in the routine of college, graduate, then work. You are not obligated to learn anything else after that right? It all ends after college? Wrong. Working in the "real world" has made me realize the importance of self motivation and the value of education and learning. As crazy as it was, I actually missed going to class. The best part? I have more free time to actually learn what I want to learn. Read a biography, learn about art history, brush up on a foreign language... ANYTHING. Education doesn't stop after school. It makes you appreciate it so much more when you return back. Sure you learn valuable skills from your internship and job, but getting stuck in a rut is real. Learning after college has to be deliberate. I hope to choose a career that I can continuously grow and challenge myself. 

Remember names | Something I have been told countless times but never actually did. For one week, I made an effort to try and remember five people's names a week. I was meeting so many people that I was overwhelmed. Networking and connections are important, but you never quite realize how important they are until after the fact. It sounds simple, but remembering someone's name and calling them by it the second time you meet them is actually pretty rare. It makes them feel valued and from my end, I feel more connected with them if I were to reach out later. 

"Figure it out" | It was the mantra of my summer, and I had no idea the impact it would have on my life. Learn how to accomplish things yourself. It could not be more true. Asking for help is okay at first, but after a while... just figure it out. Initiative is a highly regarded skill. You can find the answer to almost anything if you try hard enough. 

Keep in touch with your family | I grew up always wanting to be independent and treated like an adult. I never realized how much of a support system I needed. It gets tough to make time, but it is so worth it. If you don't make time at first you will fall out of the habit. 

Do something outside of work that makes you feel like yourself | For me, it's blogging. Periodically, I would just be completely energy-less. Everyone recharges differently. I wake up early, have a short workout, then head to a coffee shop. Nothing recharges me like blogging with an iced coffee and chocolate croissant. Then, ideally, I would head to the golf course. The perfect day. It makes me feel like myself. Every once in a while, I just needed a few hours or a day to have "me" time. 

Embrace the season you are in | I had a lot going on this past year. I would stress about the "future" (or rather, the next few months) and anticipate upcoming events. Figuring out my "next thing" was consuming my life. I would spend the present worrying about the future, and when the future came, I worry about the next thing! It was an endless cycle. I'm exhausted just writing it out. Everything happens for a reason, and the best things happen in the blink of an eye. Yes, planning helps, but something I MUST learn is to let things be. Everything has a way of working itself out, it always does. Enjoy the season you are in without worrying about the next one. 

So that's where I am today! I'm still not 100% sure of what I want to do after college, but I do know what I don't like to do. I've learned a lot. Progress is progress. Do you have any more tips or takeaways from your experiences? I'd love to hear and share them. Have a wonderful day!