What they don’t tell you about internships

Chandler Cooper was our intern here at WordsFresh for summer 2018. We asked her to share her thoughts about the experience.

The word “internship” flashes automatic stereotypes into a college student’s brain – at least it did for me. I’d seen all the memes. Sitting at a desk licking envelopes all day sounded dreadful, but not having enough experience on my résumé sounded even more distressing.  

I didn’t lick a single envelope at WordsFresh. In fact, I’m not even sure where the envelopes were kept. I wasn’t in charge of getting office supplies or making coffee or walking Fluffy. 

I wrote. I researched. I wrote about what I researched. And I grew. I grew not only as a writer but as a person. 

An internship is an invaluable learning experience, but it can be an awkward transition into the so-called “real world,” especially if you believe the stereotypes about internships to be true. Here are four things I learned during my WordsFresh internship that I didn’t know before. 

1 ) Learning is your number one objective. 

I used to think internships were for employers to assess my abilities. Crazy, right? The definition of an internship is “any official or formal program to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession,” according to www.Dictionary.com. The key word here is beginners. Employers know you’re a beginner and you’re learning. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t focus on trying to impress your colleagues. Do learn as much as possible. 

Take advantage of every learning experience even if they aren’t ideal. For instance, mistakes allow you to learn things you wouldn’t otherwise learn. And we all make mistakes. Learn from both the good and bad experiences of your internship. 

2) Perfection is unattainable. 

Throughout my internship, I kept saying to myself, “I did this one time in school, so I should know how to do this perfectly on my first try, right?” Wrong. Developing skills takes time even after college. Even after you have developed an experienced skillset, you keep building on those skills to become better. 

Instead of focusing on being perfect, focus on learning as much as you can. This transcends outside of internships and into life experiences as well. 

3) Take time to learn the jargon. 

If you don’t know what somebody is talking about, speak up. Think about it. Why would you know their jargon? I walked around the office hearing certain words constantly and never asked what they meant but always wondered. However, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on some lingo that you can take with you somewhere else so you sound seasoned in industry vernacular. 

4) You are not an outsider. 

As an intern, it’s normal to feel like an outsider, especially when you have little to no experience around a group of people who are highly experienced. Feeling comfortable in a professional learning environment is important, but that level of comfortability can be acquired through one’s own mindset. 

It’s important to understand that there’s really no reason to feel like an outsider. Chances are, the people you are working with have been an intern before. They know what it’s like, and they’re usually more than willing to answer questions and show you a thing or two. Don’t become intimidated by colleagues. Instead, consider yourself lucky to be able to learn from such experienced individuals. 

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