How To Make The Most Of Your Internship

Time for day two of the Blog Every Day in May Challenge. Today's prompt was to share something we're good at, or know a lot about.

Now, I won't pretend to know something about everything, but I do know a thing or two about a few topics. One of those is what I believe to be the key to landing a job after graduation, internships.

After five different internships throughout my college career, I consider myself a semi-professional in this space. Unfortunately, most of my expertise came from making a few mistakes along the way and learning the hard way.

Internships are a great way to gain hands on experience in your desired field, and make connections that can help you throughout your career. Here are a few pointers for how to make the most of your internship opportunity.
Where it all started, as an intern for NASCAR in the summer of '06
Show up for your internship - not just physically, but mentally. Most internships these days aren't paid, some don't even give you school credit, so you need to use all the great experience you're getting as motivation to show up. Don't just show up, but be there on time, dress the part, be ready to work, and take a good attitude with you!
My first experience with corporate events & hospitality. Instead of appreciating the fact that this involved a trip to Sonoma, Calif., I complained about having to tie balloons. Lesson learned the hard way.
Appreciate the perks & don't complain about the "boring" work - While I was interning I got a lot of cool perks, but I also got stuck doing jobs that I absolutely hated. The good wouldn't be there without the bad, and my career has benefited the most from some of these boring tasks. Take it all as a learning experience, and know that most people have to do some jobs they don't like, in order to get to that dream job.
As a brand ambassador for SPEED. Not an internship, but an opportunity that allowed me to network, and gain great event and hospitality experience. Think outside the box when looking for opportunities.
Network, Network, Network - If you don't remember anything else, remember this. If your internship is in the field you want to work, then you're more than likely going to be running into these individuals for the rest of your career. Send an email or "thank you" note to everyone you meet, it's a foolproof way to ensure that they remember you. If someone has your "dream job", ask them for a few minutes of their time, find out how they got there, and if they have any advice to offer. People love to talk about what they do, so they're never going to turn you down. Your most valuable resource during your internship is the people that you're surrounded by.
As an intern at Richard Petty Motorsports.
I'm thankful I kept in touch with this group after my internship ended because they've helped me more than once since I graduated.
Don't burn bridges - This goes back to the point above. During a job interview after college my prospective employer called a friend of his who worked at one of the companies I had listed on my resume. I hadn't listed this person as a reference, but when you work in a small industry it's very likely that someone you worked for knows someone you're interviewing with.

Getting good grades and earning a degree is important, but I'm a firm believer in the value of hands-on experience. Take advantage of these opportunities while you're in college, use the tips I've provided, and you'll be sure to stand out when the time comes to look for that real job.
xoxo BRI


Raquel said...

These are all really great tips! I'm applying for internships so I will definitely keep these in mind :)

Christina @ The Murrayed Life said...

Good points!! I love that you can look at what you did at one point and make it into life lessons. I never had any internships, but have definitely known some friends who got great perks from theirs!

Miss ALK said...

Great post Bri! I'm a college freshman with an interest in radio. I plan to have an internship my junior year, and these were great tips!

xoxo Miss ALK

Christina Chen said...

What a great post!! I think this totally applies not only to internships but to everything that you do in life and career! I especially appreciate your last point- don't burn bridges, you'll never know who you meet may be your biggest advocate. Thanks for sharing!

PS. Visiting from The story of my life May challenge :)

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