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.

RELATED READ: 9 Essentials Every Woman Needs For Her Internship

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.

Take risks

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.

Stop wasting time

There are many ways to waste time, whether that be on your phone, surfing Twitter, or simply avoiding your workload. Remember that your time at work is valuable. Each second wasted is only keeping you further from your end goals. You are the only one that can make decisions about your productivity and time management. Choose wisely.

While this is just five of many pieces of advice, these are points that I found to be most important during my years of internship experience. As a soon-to-be college graduate, I wish I had applied more of these to my past internships.

RELATED READ: 5 Things You Should Do On The First Day Of Your Internship

While this is not an “all-inclusive” internship guide, these are necessary things to get you from where you are to where you want to be in your career.

Jennifer D.
Jennifer Duplessie is a senior at Texas A&M University pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in political communications incorporating her passion for writing and photography.

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