By: Paige Crawford, Senior APSU
So, you’ve landed an internship. You choose the best professional outfit in your wardrobe, plucked all the fly-aways out of your head, purchased the nicest planner or padfolio to show that you’re a savvy business professional in the making, and show up with the sweetest smile on your face- eager and ready to get to work. By the third day you realize, your internship is directly from the horror movies. You’re fetching coffee and printing out dozens and dozens of paperwork for your supervisor and occasionally doodling and scribbling in that lovely planner of yours- what is this supposed to prepare you for?
First of all, take a deep breath- it’s just an internship. It’s also probably the first of a few interning opportunities you will have before you get settled into your career. So you may not be pitching all your greatest ideas to your supervisor or being given extensive projects just yet, but that’s okay, you will get your chance. Chances are this internship will only be for one semester anyway. So you can take this time to observe what goes on in a day in the life of your future field. There are a few things you can do to make the best of this opportunity and be proactive about the situation:
1. Take notes. Yes! Crack open that over-priced notebook of yours and write down everything you see. Notice any particular work tactics that your boss has mastered? Take note. Maybe a skill you learned in your strategies class doesn’t exactly apply to every situation- take note. This is your chance to reflect on everything you’ve learned in class and apply it to what you see in the field itself.
2. Ask questions. The more inquisitive you are, the more your supervisor is going to see that you are, in fact, interested in the internship and not just getting credit or a resume booster. Sparking an interesting conversation with your supervisor may just be the kind of push needed for him or her to actually let you take the reins and see that you are capable of more
than remembering their “Venti non-fat iced caramel macchiato, with little ice and an extra shot”.
3. Visualize. Put yourself in your supervisor’s shoes. Your job as an intern is not everything you had imagined, but does their job fulfill everything you want to get out of this career? Better than reflecting on everything you’ve learned in classes, you can also reflect on your own personal goals and aspirations. Maybe your supervisor has that fancy title you had hoped to have one day, yet their job seems to be a little less glamorous than what was anticipated. Maybe you wanted to go into print journalism, yet you realize that the photography is what you have more fun with. Internships are about learning who you are and how to train you for the future. Some self-reflection during this time is critical- you’d rather find out that you’re not in love now than when you’re sitting at an office desk of your own one or two years from now.
The word “intern” is defined as “a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, at a trade or occupation in order to gain work experience” (Merriam-Webster). “Intern” is derived from the Latin word, “inernus”, meaning “within or inward” (Etymoline). So just hold on to this opportunity and realize that while it may not be your favorite experience, it’s the perfect preparation for your future, and solely about focusing on the internal knowledge you’ll gain from this unpleasant experience.
Harper, Douglas. Retrieve April 4, 2016 from Etymology Online. Etymonline.com. 2016. Web.
Intern. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/intern