When you land the internship, you’re as excited as the little kid in the commercial surprised with a trip to Disney World. Your body rushes with excitement, thinking that life is finally on track for scoring your future career. You’ll learn firsthand the tricks of the trade to having a big time job. Whether you’re striving to be the future Leslie Knope or a hotel manager, there are some things you should look for and take away from your interning experience. Excitement, nervousness, happiness and sadness all jumble in your mind and you won’t know what to feel until you walk in on your first day.
FIND YOUR PEOPLE
The office crowd is the heart and soul of the workplace. While you’re an intern, pay attention to your colleagues. Pick out traits that make them approachable and the ones that make you cringe. In your future career, you’ll work with your colleagues for longer hours. The ability to collaborate with coworkers is imperative and you won’t get along with everyone. Your internship is temporary though, so take this time to figure out what kind of people you can stand to be around 40 hours of the week. In a summer internship, I learned that I like to work with approachable people that I can small talk with once in a while. I’m a sociable person, and I find that working next to someone who needs a “talking break” recharges my battery. Remember, it’s your coworkers who will either encourage your insanity or keep it at bay by the end of the work week.
FIND YOUR VIBE
Maybe your internship is set in a very active and fast-paced office, but you prefer a desk job where you can sit in peace and get your work done. Consider the type of office space you’re in and the day-to-day activities that you encounter. Interning at a high-paced government office may leave very little time to socialize. You might feel more at home at a sociable work place like in The Office. Sitting in a cubicle from 9 to 5 may not suit your fancy either because you like being outdoors, interacting with people and doing something unique. FSU senior Rachel Elkin completed three internships to discover that she belonged in the hospitality industry. “I get so much joy from helping others and from the fast-paced environment that I couldn’t see myself in any other industry,” Elkin said. Picture your idle office, paying extra attention to what makes it feel like home to you.
FIND YOUR VALUES
Take some time to figure out the values of your office. You can’t work in an office, if it goes against your ethics. For instance, if the job you’re looking at has an office that values individual work, but you value teamwork, then you probably wouldn’t enjoy your time there. Florida State senior Ross Shubrick spent two summers in Africa working one-on-one with people helping them place value and meaning in their day-to-day lives. “I learned that I love working for non-profits that benefit human development,” Shubrick said. A key thing to look for here is what’s missing. Is there something that would make you happier? In an internship I had, the office lacked good communication. By observing an office with bad communication, I learned that I really do value communication. If your values don’t match up with your office’s, you won’t be happy, and the damage to your mental health will take a toll on your performance.
Internships give great insight into your future career. In the scheme of things, you should take this time to learn about yourself. The purpose of an internship is to learn, so soak it all in and take away as much as you can. While at your internship, make a list of all the things that you observe, including your values, office atmospheres and the coworkers. Use this information to create a list of questions that you can take to interviews and ask your future employer. You can never be too prepared, especially when it comes to your future.