How to Keep Your InternSHIP Afloat
My summer internship for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had. Everyone around me was so professional and knowledgeable. It was easy to feel as if I didn’t belong. However, that is precisely why internships exist. As students with little to no professional experience, we do NOT belong. Internships thrust you into new experiences, initiating a period of rapid growth that helps prepare you for your future.
All internships are unique and explore different specialties at various companies, but there are some key learning concepts that are similar across the board: adaptability, critical thinking, and professionalism. To sharpen these soft skills, I have compiled the three most important things I learned this summer that helped me keep my head above water.
You may walk in the doors on the first day of your internship and be greeted by seasoned professionals who have worked at a company for over twenty years. It is easy for them to forget that all of this is new to you. Questions help bridge gaps in education and communication, and they allow your boss to make sure you are completing a task correctly the FIRST time.
For instance, once my boss asked me to take down a shelf where the new copier machine was being relocated. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, not until you realize the whereabouts of the office’s toolbox is a mystery to you. After asking around, I was told the toolbox was in the “spider closet,” which both terrified me and made no sense. Through more questioning, I found the closet and realized that it required a code to enter. I had to ask for additional assistance to complete a task that should have been a quick and easy assignment.
Employees at an office take for granted the knowledge they have gained through years of work experience with a company. Although it may feel like the opposite is true, asking for help is not a nuisance. Your boss will be much more annoyed if a job is done incorrectly than if you have a few questions about it.
Bite off more than you can chew
You intern with companies for the sole purpose of learning, so don’t be afraid to ask for more responsibilities. Ask your boss and coworkers if they need help! At no other point in your life is assistance going to be so readily available, so ask for new projects and solicit help accordingly. Not only will this teach you how to become adaptable when thrown into novel circumstances, but it also demonstrates initiative that will not go unnoticed.
Everyone wants to work with people they find pleasant. When you are kind to your coworkers, they are more likely to ask for your help on projects. “Thank you” should be the most common phrase that comes out of your mouth, next to “please” and “do you need any help with that, sir or ma’am?”
Now, go thank your momma for raising you right and preparing you for a professional career.
PRO TIP: Write a handwritten, personal thank you card to your boss or supervisor whenever you are done with your internship. It is so rewarding and means so much to them, especially in this day and age. After writing a thank you card to my boss, I was asked back for the next summer less than a week later.
During your next internship, are you going to sink or swim? Internships are a fun way to learn about your career potential, and with these 3 tips, you can stay afloat and will sail with breeze.