Being an intern can be quite intimidating, especially if you have no professional work experience. However there is no need for you to worry, everyone went through the learning stage at one point, even the most successful CEOs out there were once just a newbie like you and me. Yesterday marked my first month as an intern and I thought it was the perfect occasion to share some tips!
1. Don't be picky
Secretly we're all dreaming of that dream internship, be it at Vogue Magazine, your national parliament or even Google, however dreaming isn't going to get you an internship. I'm sorry to burst the bubble, but unless you start to seriously plan your moves and up your game you will probably not land that dream internship. Staying realistic is key, keep your options open and have the goal in mind: to learn knew things. Learning is what an internship is all about, even if this particular internship is not in your desired work field it doesn't mean you won't learn. The most horrible internship is still very insightful, you might realise you don't want to work in that particular field or that a certain company just isn't the right fit for you after all. Keep thinking about the advantages: after every internship you will have learned at least one thing!
2. Make a list of important criteria
Narrow your options down by creating a list of must-have criteria. This is going to help you in the search of an internship. Personally, I had quite a difficult time trying to choose one internship from the many I applied for. Obviously you will not be invited for an interview, or even contacted, by all of the companies, however it is good to have a clear list in your mind to simplify and speed up the decision-making process. Your list should prioritise things like location, work-field, company relations etc. Say you land a marketing internship in New York, your dream location and desired work-field, but you will be marketing shoes whereas your field of interest is food. Are you going to let this opportunity pass by? Another example would be landing your dream internship in the wrong location, would it be a possibility for you to relocate? These are all things you have to keep in mind, in the end it comes down to what is most important to you and your future career.
3. Don't panic
Personally, I experienced many mental breakdowns and panic attacks even before I actually started the internship. My mind constantly kept asking me questions like: "What am I going to do, I have no experience?" or "How am I going to do this or that, what is like to work from 9-5" and the scariest thing for me "How am I supposed to talk on the phone and answer emails professionally?". Don't worry, everything is going to be just fine. Based on my own experience, your employer is well aware of the fact that you have no to little experience and that you are there to learn things. You will have the opportunity to learn everything you are panicking about, nobody expects you to show up on your first day as an intern all prepared to become the next CEO. As long as you prove you are dedicated and eager to learn new things everything will be just fine.
4. Stay proactive and professional
Once you have already started your internship it is important to realise you are in a different and professional environment. Even if the company is very informal, never get too conformable. You are doing this internship to make an impression, you are there to learn, and to show that you are motivated, even when you are getting to the end of the internship. The environment at university is completely different, it takes a while to get the hang of this new world you suddenly find yourself in. Please don't take it the wrong way, but you are not one of the employees, as included as you might feel in your team, you are still an intern. In some scenarios you might not even receive a pay check. This is something I have to remind myself as well. It is important to keep learning, which essentially is the goal of the experience and to stay motivated.
5. Get this book: All Work, No Pay by Lauren Berger
First of all, this is not sponsored, I purchased the book with my own money to prepare myself for this new stage in life and I genuinely recommend it to anyone trying to find an internship. This book is incredibly helpful, Lauren helps you figure out everything starting at step one: what do I want to do when I get older? Everything from career choices, applications, resumes, interviews, the internship itself to after the internship is covered in a straightforward book. Did you know there were certain things you have to do after an internship? Neither did I. This book hasn't left my side ever since I started my search for an internship and I'll be sure to keep it close until the day I land my dream job.
There is a whole new world out there after university, go and explore it!
Lots of Love,