11 Mar 4 Reasons I Had the Best Internship Ever, and How You Can Too.
I consider myself exceptionally lucky in my internship experience. Everyday I was surrounded by supportive industry experts all willing to help me grow. There were truly no dumb questions, no office was off limits, and the occasional free bagels were a huge plus. I could really go on all day about how grateful I am for the experience.
I am more than happy to admit the majority of this was pure luck. However, a few key decisions were made that ensured my internship success. After gaining so much from the experience, I feel it is only right to give back some of the treasures I learned.
- “The worst they can say is no.” My grandfather is a successful, hardworking man. Days spend running around his house were filled with cookies, laughter and grandfatherly words of wisdom. The best (and most frequent) piece of advice he ever gave me was “the worst they can say is no.” When I began my internship job search, I often found myself refraining from reaching out if the company didn’t have a specific “careers” section, or if I felt under qualified. As grandfathers do, he offered some advice. “The worst they can say is no.” And yes, while technically they could say much, much worse, that wasn’t the point. Putting yourself out there is the first sign of initiative. The next day I sent my first email to Mack, my former internship mentor, and the rest was history.
- Getting hired is just the beginning. It’s easy to get excited for the first few days, everything is new and everyone is exceptionally nice (maybe that was just luck for me too). What comes after the honeymoon is the sustenance. You’re only going to get as much from the experience as you put in. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of comfort. When I found myself lacking inspiration, I reached out to different departments. While I was technically a digital media intern, by reaching out to other areas of the agency I was able to learn new skills and knowledge I may have never experienced if I had not done so. If you find yourself with extra time, offer to help anyway you can. My degree is in advertising but I have always had an interest in graphic design. By offering to learn and be of assistance to our graphic designer I was able gain valuable knowledge from a pro. Again, the worst they can say is no. More often than not I found my desire to help was appreciated and led to stronger relationships within the agency with departments I may never had explored before.
- Be grateful. This should go without saying, but be grateful for everything you have been given. Companies often take a risk by hiring an intern. They have little to no previous experience and will require more assistance than your seasoned veteran. There are many ways to show your gratitude. Call me old fashioned, but a handwritten thank you goes a long way. Immediately after being hired I wrote Mack a thank you note, because I was truly thankful. The letter was greatly appreciated and really set the tone for the beginning of my internship. Show your gratitude by being on time, prepared, and professional. Nothing screams, “I don’t care” like showing up late looking like you just rolled out of bed. Do what you need to do to arrive on time and ready (excited!) to start the day.
- Finally, take any and all opportunities that come your way. Mack would often mention in passing commercial shoots or out-of-office work events. Go to them. If someone is offering to expand your internship experience, TAKE ‘EM UP ON IT. I can’t stress this enough. Some of the most valuable experiences I had were outside of my required workdays. I realized my love for videography at behind the scenes commercial shoots (and even got to be in a commercial), grew my relationship with the CEO at an out-of-town convention, and had some of the best margaritas of my life at an advertising award show.
Internships are one of the most challenging and rewarding professional experiences you can have. Make the best of yours by taking initiative, going out of your comfort zone, and being grateful. Best of luck!