Internships: Why, How & Tips to Do Your Best

I’m a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a B.A. in Communication, Summa Cum Laude. I fancy myself a freelance creator, loving all things in the media and the work behind it. Writing full-time since graduating in 2011, I’ve fallen in love with all the wonderful people I’ve “e-met” along the way. From design blogs across the globe to creating slogans for local realtors, I’m a wizard of words and offer social media consulting for small businesses. But you can check out the serious stuff
here. You can also visit me at HerUmbrella.com, my personal lifestyle blog.

Internships are an essential part of your college career and preparation for your future, real-life “big-girl” or “big-boy” job. They’re a great way to get your foot in the door, gain knowledge that can only be given in a work setting and build your confidence in the field of your choice. Not only do these experiences look great on your resumes, right out of the gate, but you’ll be able to feel out the road you’ll be taking once your diploma is framed and hung on the wall. Testing out the waters is an absolute necessity. How else will you know if the path you’ve chosen is the right one for you?
One of the biggest misconceptions of an internship, besides the pay or lack thereof, is your approach. An internship is not a part-time job, it’s a learning experience. Instead of looking at it as you’re doing free work, you have to see this as a favor from the company. They’re allowing you to learn from them, get your feet wet and partake in as many experiences as possible while there.
Having done a plethora of internships and free work even after college in the communications and journalism realm, I’m here to give you some of my own, personal tips on how to do your best once you’ve snagged an internship that you’re excited about.
Become Knowledgeable
Although you should be doing your homework on the company before you even interview, make sure after you’ve been offered the job that you’re brushing up on what’s going on in the business. Be sure that before you walk in the door on the first day that you know a bit about the field and you’re familiar with the company’s purpose, web site and even take a peek on their social media to see what their “voice” is like.
Utilize and Pounce On Every Opportunity
If you’re asked to stay late and attend a work-related function with your mentors, do it. These type of opportunities aren’t given lightly, so pounce on them when you can. Whether it’s to visit a news station during a client’s spotlight interview during a live telecast or participating in an after-hours meeting concerning the next month’s biggest events, if you’re invited …. Go!
Take Initiative
Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you have an idea, then share it! I understand that rejection is the worst and doesn’t feel good but no matter what field you’re interested in you’re bound to get rejected several times before you find your niche. Once you realize this, sharing ideas and taking chances won’t be scary and you’ll find yourself more attractive to the company and gaining more experience.
Dress Well & Be Professional
This should have been done at your interview time as well but make sure you keep the “dressing to keep impressing” in the back of your mind and never be late. Don’t be inappropriate with your slits or necklines, keep your hygiene in check and nix the jeans unless specifically told otherwise. And wear a watch so you don’t have to check your phone constantly for the time.
Ask Questions
This is an internship so you’re not expected to know everything. Ask questions, seem interested in what’s going on within the company and with your co-workers. Get to know them and their roles in the business. Learn about their daily tasks and goals. Pick their brains, that’s what they’re there for!

Hopefully these quick tips will give you a head start in the right direction. Remember, it’s never too early to begin interning. The more opportunities you take and apple for, the more experience you’ll have when you hit the job search scene.

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