There are many articles floating around the internet about what interns should and shouldn’t do. Admittedly, these articles only helped me so much before plunging into my first internship in Washington, D.C in 2016. There are no articles in the world that will tell you exactly what you need to know about your specific internship. Each experience is vastly different. In fact, you will only learn by being in it yourself.
However, there were things I learned during my internship that I could have been better prepared for through the online pieces I read. Although my list of advice to new interns is ultimately infinite, here are five more uncommon pieces of advice that you need to hear before stepping into your internship role.
Find a mentor
My most important piece of advice for interns is to seek a mentor within your department. The best way to learn is through someone who can show you the ropes. It is best to find someone that has experience in your interests and is willing to help. If you’re interested in White House reporting at a news outlet, for example, ask if the White House correspondent needs any help or if you can shadow them for a few days. This is the best way to feel out a position you want to pursue and form valuable relationships with other employees.
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Allow your fear to drive you
It’s no secret that internships can be scary. Jumping into an unknown role with little experience is not easy, however, this is where you will grow the most. You are faced with two choices when fearful: allowing it to hold you back from progress, or to turn it into motivation. You have a limited amount of time during your internship to make a move. It should be a positive one. Choose not to allow your fear to hold you back, but boost you into success and productivity.
Stop comparing your journey to others
Nothing will hold you back from success like comparison. Remind yourself that your journey is its own. Don’t allow your thoughts to wander about what life “could be.” If you’re not where you want to be, work harder each day to get there. Comparing your path to others’ will not get you closer to your goals, but rather waste time and energy.
Your comfort zone is a place for rest, not growth. If you want to make a lasting impression and improvements to your work efforts, you must push yourself and take risks every single day. Pitch ideas to your supervisors. Go above and beyond your daily tasks. Once you have lost the “intern mentality,” you will be much more productive. Know what your limits are while also keeping yourself from being limited by this idea of being “just an intern.” Anyone can do the bare minimum, but others will notice when you think outside the box and do more than expected.