While the proverb “practice makes perfect” outdates all of us, it couldn’t be more true. Especially for an intern. When I first started my internship at MCCI in May 2017, I felt the way most interns do: I had been tossed overboard where I would sink or swim.
I soon realized that outside of school, not everything has a textbook answer and things aren’t always as they seem because what works one day might not the next. All internships are different, but if you play your cards right, you’ll learn how to advance yourself and hone in on skills that you will need in your career. Here are a few of my takeaways:
- Ask questions. When you first start an internship, you realize there is no such thing as a dumb question. It is always better to ask questions than to try and figure things out on your own. Even though you may feel silly for asking or you don’t get the response you were hoping for, it’s best to ask and get a clear understanding so you know for the future.
- Don’t panic. We are all human and make mistakes. How you respond in different situations is what matters most. It’s important to maintain your composure when things don’t go as planned. Things happen and regardless of if they happen inside or outside of your control, you can’t let the past dictate your future.
- Learn to adapt. At the start of my internship, a coworker of mine advised me to, “adapt, improvise, overcome.” Not everything will go according to plan, which means that you need to have plans B, C and D ready to go. Having multiple game plans is key, and being a problem solver means figuring out which has the right approach.
- Multi-tasking. As an intern, you need learn how to be able to jump between tasks and shift your focus to something that may require immediate action. Instead of attempting to stick to a structured schedule, create task to-do lists that need to be completed by the end of the day. This helps you to keep track of your responsibilities and work on multiple projects at once instead of being bound to the clock.
For an upcoming college graduate, an internship is one of the most life-changing experiences. It gives you the opportunity to gain skills that you can’t learn in a classroom and to experience what life could be like after graduation. An internship is more than a job, it’s a stepping stone to your future.