For many college students, including myself, internships are one of the most sought after experiences. While there is a big emphasis on getting an internship as a resume booster or something to talk about in a future interview, there are so many other equally important things that an internship can provide. My first internship taught me more than I could have ever anticipated as I packed my bags and traveled from Texas up to Washington DC this past summer. Whether you’re gearing up for your first internship, or just wondering what the experience is like, here are the top three things I learned throughout my summer internship:
Get to know as many people as you can
One of the best aspects of my internship was getting to meet so many people with enormously diverse backgrounds. Some of my co-workers had been Fulbright scholars, hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro, and lived in several different countries around the world. It seemed like every day I was learning something new and exciting about someone in the office! Additionally, there were several people that had similar majors as I do now and I loved hearing about the path that got them into their career. My internship provided me not just with work experience, but with a plethora of employees that had a wealth of knowledge on both the workforce and life in general.
Another highlight of my summer was getting to know other interns. It was fun hearing stories from their own college experiences and I truly enjoyed getting to work alongside them in the office. Even a whole semester later, I still keep in contact with the interns I met, whether it be to get college advice or just catch up with each other.
Getting to know others around the office not only allowed me to make friends (and role models!) throughout the summer but also provided great networking opportunities. The people I met have helped me in a variety of ways, including offering letters of recommendation and putting me in contact with even more individuals who were able to help me expand my future career.
Step out of your comfort zone
Starting an internship program in a brand new city and with complete strangers can be overwhelming and even a little bit scary. Even small things like having to talk in front of my entire team during meetings made me nervous at first. However, one of the best things about internships is how they allow you to branch out and do things you may have been hesitant to try initially.
While interning, I had the task of staying in contact with world-class researchers through phone meetings and emails. This scared me at first and I was terrified of doing or saying something wrong while planning events and projects with individuals that were at the top of their field. However, as the summer progressed, it was easy to see how much my professional communication skills had grown and an email or phone call began to feel like a breeze. While I was initially nervous about sending a singular email, by the end of my internship, I had developed the confidence to lead a conversation or meeting with ease. It was amazing to look back over my summer and realize how much I had grown as an intern through all of the new things I was exposed to.
It’s going to take some time to adjust
I still remember logging onto my desktop for the first time on the first day of my internship, only to be bombarded by 20+ unread messages from an email account I didn’t even know I had. The first week of most internships focuses on onboarding meaning there’s probably going to be a lot of paperwork to do, training to participate in, and meetings to get you caught up on everything going on in the office. I was completely overwhelmed at first by the vast amount of information I was receiving, but that is completely normal! Adjusting to an entirely new environment and immersing yourself in a new company takes some time. However, there is no need to worry because I promise that by the end of the summer you’ll feel like a pro in everything you do!
While it’s always nice to have an internship that adds a few lines to your LinkedIn profile, interning is an experience that holds so much more value. From developing new capabilities to forming connections with industry professionals, my first internship taught me a variety of skills that I know I will carry with me throughout college and my career.
WRITTEN BY Sonya Pfitzenmaier University of Texas
Sonya is a current sophomore at the University of Texas studying chemical engineering. She is best known for starting spontaneous dance parties in her apartment and unconditionally cheering on the Texas longhorns. Outside of school, Sonya enjoys scouring the internet for new recipes to try and exploring the city of Austin, one hike at a time.