It’s the first day of your summer internship and your expectations are high. You’ve envisioned yourself walking into the office, everyone eager to know about you and help you. You expect to be given tasks that have meaning and for your day to end with a smile on your face. However, your reality ends up being something a little different.
Instead you’re given printing jobs and told to send emails, tasks that you consider to be ‘mediocre’. Your boss asks you to get him coffee, you have to keep Google Calendars up to date, you eat lunch alone at the little desk that has been designated to you and no one knows your name.
You end your day feeling less optimistic and with your expectations crushed to the ground. You had created an image as to what your internship would be like. However, in order for you to embrace and accept your internship fully, you have to give up what you had in mind.
The internship I had last summer was not what I expected it to be. After my first day I found myself filled with disappointment, until I decided to look at it as a learning experience. As a university student, this internship was an opportunity for me to learn about my desired field.
Brief Internship Guidelines
I took the initiative and spoke to my boss about his expectations for me and my expectations as well. I made the effort to reach out to my co-workers, introduced myself and asked them for advice. It’s important to remember that an internship is a two-way street. Don’t be afraid to ask your employer for more projects and opportunities.
The reason forty hour internships can remain unpaid is because you are promised a valuable educational experience. You are literally offering your skills in return for work experience. Go ahead and speak up if you find yourself with very little to do, most employers will be receptive to you and will respond accordingly.
Take the initiative and become involved in the company or organisation that you are interning for. It can be taxing on us to get caught up in the work we do. Ask questions to your fellow co-workers, keep up with the department you’re working with and attend company events. This will help you become part of where you work.
Most importantly, have fun! Find a balance between working hard and enjoying yourself in the summer. Never feel like you are going to drown in your work. It’s best to take time out for self care and to remind yourself that this opportunity will be worth every bit of hard work you are putting in and the learning experience will be valuable.
Summer internships are for a short, defined period of time, so give it 100%. Whether an assignment is mundane or exotic, pursue it with relentless drive and a determination to exceed. Internships are a voyage of self discovery, an opportunity for you to develop and strengthen your skills that will be very handy once you get a full time job.