Some get stuck organizing filing cabinets, others make runs for coffee with complicated names that end up spilling on their slacks, but the luckiest ones actually get a feel for what their future career may be like.
Whether it’s alphabetizing names that are not easily pronounced, the fastest way to get a coffee stain out of a new blazer or whether to use Photoshop or Illustrator to design a detailed website, each intern ends up learning something valuable.
So, let's imagine that it’s the morning of your first day as an intern. You just jumped out of bed feeling nervous and excited at the same time.
- A good night’s sleep: check
- Morning coffee: check
- Notebook and 2 pens: check
- Nutritious breakfast: check
- Professional attire: check
Now you’re feeling all grown up and you’re on your way!
Internships cover a broad range of tasks so it’s difficult to know what you’re in for when signing up. It’s best to be on the safe side and know what to expect.
You’ll start with the dirty work. Sure you won’t be scrubbing toilets and scraping gum off the bottom of tables (at least I hope you won’t be), but you most probably won’t be given the company’s largest account to handle either. You can expect to start with some photocopying, running errands and scheduling appointments, just to be on the safe side. Pay attention to how your colleagues like their coffee!
Real responsibilities will come rushing in. There’s only so much coffee that your employers can drink in a day. Soon enough the tasks given to you will begin increasing in difficulty. You’ll go from stapling papers to possibly meeting with clients and taking on large supervised projects. Tasks might become more stressful, overwhelming and time consuming but it helps to break them up into smaller tasks. You might even find yourself demanding a heavier workload. Ambition pays off!
You’ll gain insight. Your first internship will most probably be your first experience of using what you’ve learned in school in the real world. If that doesn’t make you feel smarter already, I don’t know what will! You will definitely learn a lot, and probably much more than you signed up for or expected. You are guaranteed to gain insight, knowledge, confidence, and self-achievement along with many other skills you’re sure to use in the future. Most importantly, you’ll be learning, and there’s no such thing as learning too much!
Below, a few people share insights from their transition from academics to the world of work:
Jasmin: My first internship allowed me to be in the real world, apply the knowledge I learned in university, but most importantly, I got to learn more of what university doesn’t teach you.
Johnny: I didn’t realize until I started my first internship that I had absolutely no idea how to compose a proper email. That’s just one of the many things I’m glad I learned.
Sarah: My first internship was as a shadow teacher. I was assigned a child with a severe case of ADHD who absolutely hated me. I basically spent the whole time chasing after him and repeating the lessons. Lesson learned: I gained a lot of patience and realized how much I loved working with kids.
Leila: I noticed there was a huge difference between life as a student and life as an intern. For one, my mentor was different than any teacher I ever had. He was very picky (won’t mention any names) but in the end I was thankful for it because he taught me a lot.
Hilal: In college, I used to sleep in and miss my classes. It was never a problem for me. The day I started my first internship, I made sure to set multiple alarms so I’d get up on time and be professional. I wasn’t even late once!
Rana: As an intern, I have been able to gain a lot of experience in a short amount of time, and in the process, I have learned how to deal with my mistakes. Also, I feel valued by my colleagues, and this keeps me interested in my field.