Lessons I Learned After 4 Internships
I have always been the type of person who constantly looks ahead to the future. Forget the past and even the present, I want to be ten steps ahead before I even take my first step. This mentality has both been a blessing and a curse, as I have had a lot of successes in my short 21 years of life, but I can't help but wonder what my life would be like if I had just slowed down, appreciated the process and trusted my gut. I have always been "go, go, go," but I have learned that there are many moments in life when you must stop, reflect and try again.
In the course of a year, I completed four internships, all of which were drastically different. I have cried, laughed and rejoiced throughout these experiences, and I could not imagine my life without them. Although it was a tough, long road, I finally landed a full-time contractor position at a marketing agency in Dallas, and I have no doubt that by September, I will be brought on as a full-time employee.
Although I am young, I have learned many important life lessons throughout my internships, so I thought I would share some of these revelations to help guide those looking to secure their first internship, or even land their first real job.
It's Not Always About The Work; It's About The Value You Bring To The Work
Many times during my internships, I struggled to keep myself busy. Something I did not realize is that the whole point of an internship is not to just complete each task assigned to you, but to come up with your own tasks that benefit the company as a whole, whether that be helping with internal processes, organizing information or even preparing for the next round of interns. When you're an intern, you're not necessarily hired for your skill; you're hired for the value you can bring to the business. Remember this.
Not Everyone Is Meant To Be Your Friend
If everyone was nice to you and agreed with everything you had to say, when would you grow? While I made many friends throughout my internships, I definitely encountered a few personalities I didn't mix well with. While it was frustrating at the time, I now realize that those people where there for a reason: to help me learn to get along with coworkers, even if we don't see eye to eye. Not everyone is going love you, but instead of viewing this as a negative, view it as an opportunity to prove them wrong.
An Internship Isn't A Guarantee For A Job, And That's Okay
Being the high-achiever that I am, I got to my third internship and was positive it was going to turn into a job. I was so focused on the end goal that I failed to enjoy the process. I ended up getting extremely upset when I didn't reach that end goal and was forced to move on to yet another internship. However, in the grand scheme of things, I realize that I wasn't meant to work there; I was meant to learn more lessons so I could eventually be good enough for a full-time job. Sure I was eager, hard-working and ambitious, but I didn't have the tools I needed to succeed in a full-time job. It took one more internship after that before I landed a full-time job, and I am so grateful for that fourth internship because it taught me skills I hadn't learned at the previous three internships.
You Will Make Mistakes, But So Does Everyone Else
There were so many times throughout my internships that I messed up. Now that I've experienced these failures, I've gotten better at accepting the fact that I am not perfect, nor will I ever be. No one expects you to succeed every time, especially when you're an intern. You're there to learn, grow and prosper, and failure is a guaranteed part of that process. I have learned to let things go and not be so harsh on myself because every day is a new beginning and every mistake is a lesson in disguise. We are all imperfect. The sooner you accept this, the easier your internship will be.