As an intern if you are lucky you may be able to land a paid internship, but if a paid internship is not in the cards for you it may become discouraging to invest your time into an internship that does not pay. However, understanding the importance of an internship, learning and networking is most important. In order to get the most of an internship the most important thing you can do is simple, just SHOW UP. Remember you have to be there to learn and compete.
Ask yourself “How flexible are you willing to be?” As a full-time college student, time may not always be on our side, and time management skills are not the easiest to develop. However, once you decide to commit to an internship it is important that you have some flexibility with your schedule. From personal experiences at my internship I learned that there will be times when it can be an inconvenience to have to put so much time into something without anything monetary to show for it. Always remember someone is always watching. Going the extra mile can lead to new opportunities.
I have done a total of three internships throughout my college journey in three years. What I have learned is that either you plan to fail or your plan to succeed. Your preparation is a direct reflection of the responsibility one may be capable of handling. I could explain this concept to you in a million ways not limited to an internship, but I am focusing on the networking aspect. Internships are an opportunity to promote your skills and work which can lead you to meeting new people. With that being said, have a protocol to introduce yourself to people. Also be mindful and observe how those where you may intern at dress and carry themselves. For example, I intern at a news station therefore its common to come across men wearing suits with ties or slacks with dress shirt and ties. Your appearance must represent where you are going in the future not where you are now. Remember the first impression is the last impression.
Put cell phones and other devices on silent
Let’s be honest for a moment, how often do you check your cell phone or other device a day? Don’t worry about answering that aloud, I am sure you do with even knowing you do so. I think overtime we become so used to using our cellular devices when we want that we often do so in times when it is isn’t appropriate. The point is that having your device on loud or vibrate alerts us when we have a message or ect. which makes it even more tempting to check your devices. As an intern it is important to send the appropriate professional message, this goes back to being mindful that someone is always watching you. I would hate to lose an opportunity because I could not keep my phone away long enough.
Last but not least, LISTEN! When was the last time you actually listened? Knowing how to communicate effectively is great, but a great communicator cannot listen and fully be engaged in something else. It is so much easier to learn when you take the time to listen instead of talk. I have learned that when you have no idea what is being discussed then just listen and learn. This has been referred to as being the “Fly on the wall” because all you do is sit there observe and listen.