Internships are a rite of passage for most of us. You earn those requisite 120 credits or so in your undergraduate life, and then you either write a thesis or do an internship. There are also those who choose to do an internship for the sake of gaining experience. No matter your circumstance, an internship is a valuable experience that will give your ambitions and dreams some context.
Do you love fashion but refuse to work late nights and weekends? Do you love combing through Instagram posts for beautiful wedding photography but don’t like being on your feet for hours at a time? It’s one thing to have an idea what you want to do for a living, and another to know what that’s like on a daily basis.
Internships are glimpses into a career you like. But more than that, it also enables you to meet people and expand your network. Look at your experience as a way to grow, and not only as a means to tick off boxes. Internships have paved the way for a lot of young women and prepared them for their careers ahead.
Here are four way to make the most of your internship:
1. Eat lunch with your fellow interns.
Chances are you didn’t go to school in the same universities as your colleagues. What you will have in common is a vision for your career. You’re both in a large public relations firm because you both see yourselves as being account executives or communications professionals. You’re both in a filmmaking internship because you both can’t stop talking about your eternal adoration for cinematography and razor sharp screenwriting. Engage with fellow interns and learn from them. Build on each other’s skills and create a support network.
2. Dress for the job you want.
It goes without saying that it’s better to be overdressed than to be underdressed. Just because you’re not full-time staff doesn’t mean you shouldn’t observe the same rules as they do. If they dress up in business formal, then wear your pearls and leave clunky jewelry at home. Dress to blend in; it will help boost your confidence.
3. Participate in brown bag lunches.
Some internship programs allow you to meet with senior leadership during one of your lunch breaks. Come ready with questions or talking points. They’ll probably want to hear ideas, questions, or comments, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Ask smart questions and they’ll remember you.
4. Find a mentor.
There is a possibility that while you’re in your internship program, you find that your supervisor is someone whose career you want to emulate. One of the best things to come out of your internship is not just scoring credits—it’s finding a mentor. Keep your eyes open and try to get informational interviews with prospective mentors. They can give insight, encouragement, and advice as you start your career. They can also be the foundations of a professional network that you will eventually build.
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