For us college students and recent grads, finding the perfect internship can be a pain. I mean, the biggest decisions we make on a day-to-day basis are choosing which microwavable meal to eat and whether or not we’re going to actually get around to writing that English paper that’s due tomorrow. How on earth are we to know which internship to choose? This was my mindset going into my marketing internship at Union (formerly Studiobanks). I didn’t know what to expect, but was eager to learn everything I could about digital marketing.
During my first week, I was asked to help plan the Union open house party. Plan a party? College did teach me a thing or two about that, so no sweat! My next few weeks were full of exciting new projects and learning the ins and outs of a digital agency. Slowly, I began to understand new concepts and grow with the team. Just when I thought I was getting the hang of things, I inevitably made my first big mistake. With several more of these uh-oh moments under my belt, I decided to share a few gems of advice from our summer intern team.
Intern Tip #1. Double Check Everything
I sent an email with the wrong company information in the subject line. It wasn’t just misspelled or even a wrong date...no...I typed the wrong name! My boss, having that keen attention to detail, of course noticed and pointed it out. After a self-imposed mini-meltdown at my desk, I shook it off and made sure I never made that mistake again. Future interns, save yourselves a meltdown. Double check your subject lines, titles, words and pretty much everything else you send out.
Intern Tip #2. Speak Up
Despite the obvious intimidation factor from being the new kid on the block, the entire team welcomes your opinion. Don’t be afraid to speak up and provide solutions when you see one, or give your opinion on a particular issue. I felt more fulfilled and useful when I started speaking up.
Intern Tip #3. Bring Cake
If you want the team to like you, I mean really, really like you, reach them where it counts the most: their stomachs. Just check out the cake that our development intern, Margaret, made from scratch for the team. If your cake-baking skills are less than sub-par like mine, stick to offering to help the team out in whatever ways you can. Which, come to think of it, is an intern tip in and of itself.
Intern Tip #4. Offer to Help
Your teammates love it when you ask if they need help with whatever they're working on. Worst case scenario, you can't help at all, but at least they know you're willing to help and open to learn. Plus, you look like a hero just for offering. Best case scenario, you get pulled into a fun project that will give you experience you might not have gotten otherwise.
Intern Tip #5. Have a Back-up Plan
In accordance with J. Lo's most recent box-office "hit," The Back-Up Plan, design intern, Leigh-Anne, learned that having a back-up plan is a must. Being a designer, you always have to be prepared and ready to show multiple options for a project. You also have to be open to receiving criticism and feedback that will only help improve your own craft and design style.
Despite my initial uncertainties about internships, I've come to realize that it's all a learning experience. I learned some tricks of the trade and came out fluent in digital lingo, spitting out phrases like content management system, HTML5, Flash-based, and CSS3 on a daily basis. And of course, I also learned that mistakes happen for a reason. You just have to use them as a learning tool. By embracing the lessons you learn and trusting in yourself, an internship can prepare you for your career, make you a valuable resource, and make you a stronger individual.