10 Things You'll Learn as an Intern

An internship is more than just bringing coffee for the office team, doing menial work and being treated like garbage by the company veterans. It’s a chance to peek inside the industry doors. 

See Also: The Benefits of a Summer Internship [Infographic]

Internships are a wonderful concept for any young professional who wants to make it big in their respective industry and to garner a glimpse into what their future field is really like. You’ll either learn it’s all sunshine and lollipops or it’s all storm showers and cans of Mountain Dew. 

Today, internships are under a tremendous amount of pressure, and are quickly garnering a horrid reputation. Everything from government regulations to an inundation of lawsuits from former interns, the future may see the idea of interning as a foreign concept. Why would a business take the risk of an internship program? 

For now though, internships are here to stay and they are something you should certainly take advantage of. You can learn a lot from internships: skills, connections and inside looks into the niche you want to work in. Of course, your romantic illusions of what the business really is like may be shot down. It all depends on the internship. 

Here are ten things you’ll learn as an intern:

1. It's Not What You Thought it Was

You’re excited to be starting your internship in the fashion industry. You haven’t been able to sleep because you have butterflies in your stomach and because you really want to work in this field. Well, after just three days of working in the business, it’s not exactly what you thought it was. The hours are atrocious, the people in the field are too self-involved and all of the tasks you’ve been given thus far are definitely not what you expected. It’s opened your eyes a little bit.

2. Others Have Lost Their Passion

You’re a young, fresh journalism graduate with a nose for scoops. You want to become the next Woodward and Bernstein. However, your confidence has been reduced after you’ve seen several of your peers lose their passion for the business. Remember, they were just like you when they were your age. But after years of ferocious editors, pay cuts and a dying industry, they’ve lost their smile. Will that be you in ten to twenty years?

3. You're Going to Make Plenty of Mistakes

The Internship

You’ve spent countless hours in the classroom perfecting your expertise in computer engineering. You think you can do no wrong when you start your internship. Unfortunately, you’ll quickly learn that you can definitely make a ton of mistakes, errors and blunders. But that’s life. Everyone makes mistakes, especially when they’re rookies. That’s why they have erasers on the back of pencils. Don’t let it get you down. All those veterans likely made the same errors as you.

4. The Company Has a Hierarchy

And you’re at the very bottom of the barrel. Each firm - public or private - has a hierarchy, and you’re fresh meat, which means you’re at the bottom of the ladder. It’s up to you to climb through the hierarchy become a big deal. This won’t happen as an intern, but everyone has to start somewhere, right? Yes, this does mean getting Hollywood studio executives coffee. Remember, one day you could be an intern and the next day you could be Jordan Belfort (without the prison time).

5. A 9-5 Existence is What You Make of it

When you were in college getting your degree in marketing, you didn’t want to work a dreary 9-to-5 existence. Instead, you wanted to telecommute, work remotely and have a flexible work schedule. Well, a week into your internship, you’ll quickly realize that a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule is in your cards. With that being said, it’s up to you what you make of those hours: before, during and after. Eat, sleep, work and repeat not for you? Change it up!

6. Look the Part

Indeed, it was great just wearing jeans and a t-shirt to school every single day. However, now that you work in the legal field you have to look the part and this means dressing professionally. You won’t get very far if you’re sporting ironic t-shirts, ripped jeans and sneakers (unless you’re the greatest legal mind in the world today). It’s all about perception and dressing the part will be of tremendous importance.

7. Here You Will Establish Your Social Network

If you think your network has already been established because you have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts then you have another thing coming. Your true social network will be created at your internship. You will meet new people, generate new connections and have a plethora of new references. So you should really go through the trouble of getting to know people and establishing relationships with them.

8. Good Attitude vs. Bad Attitude: It'll be Noticed

Sure, you’re someone hiding in a room behind a desk on one of the lower floors. Just because you think you can’t be seen it doesn’t mean you actually can’t be noticed. What this means is that you’re always under observation and if you come into the office with a good attitude or a bad attitude your superiors will know. Yes, you’re at the bottom of the barrel, but you were brought in as an intern for a reason. Be positive, smile and act professional. It’ll help.

9. Take Advantage of the Situation

It’s been three weeks into your internship and you’re already getting ready to finish it up within a week. Don’t throw away this opportunity. You must take full advantage of the situation, even if you only have a few days left. How can you do it? Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

career testing
career testing
  • Learn some new skills when it comes to the technology the company uses. 
  • Keep a tab on what exactly the firm looks for in its workforce. 
  • Study the company’s history and how it has contributed to the industry. 
  • Find out how the industry is evolving and who the major players are. 

Don’t just sit there waiting for the time to pass watching cat videos.

10. Enhance Your Professionalism

the Intern

Are you professional by nature or is it very hard for you to be professional? If it’s the latter then this is your opportunity to improve upon your level of professionalism. You can achieve this by taking a look at how your peers behave, speak and dress. You can also incorporate some of the common techniques for your final couple of weeks: arriving on time, dressing professional, refusing to participate in office gossip and staying at work just a few minutes longer each day.

See Also: How to Get an Internship with YouTube

Nobody likes being an intern. We all want to leave school and have a high-paying position right away. This isn’t going to happen unless your uncle is CEO of a major tech giant or law firm. You’re going to have to climb the ladder, make the right connections and work hard to achieve greatness in your field. The internship is the very first step in your thousand-step journey. 

Whatever happens during your internship, do not despair and remain resilient. You can do it.