Internships can be daunting, difficult and downright scary. Whether you're filing papers, getting coffee, or sitting in on meetings with CEOs, there are always things you wish you did better.
We asked HuffPosters to share advice they would give to their intern selves with the hope that their mistakes and wisdom will help you current and future interns make the best of, and get the most from, your own internship experiences.
Check the ego and the entitlement at the front door. Embrace the opportunities, including the menial tasks.
-Sujata Mitra, Director of Communications, News and Politics
Fake it 'til you make it. You will make it. Jump in head first. You're going to make mistakes no matter what, but you'll make a lot less a lot sooner if you're not afraid of them. Trust yourself. The validity of your gut, your opinion, your taste, and perspective is constant and permanent. Don't apologize (too often). Stand tall. Physical posture translates to emotional confidence. Live by the mantra "can't stop, won't stop."
-Jessica Dickerson, Editorial Fellow Black Voices
No one at the company knows who you are, what you've done before or what you're capable of -- so tell them! Your boss WILL notice if you get in late for work every day.
-Joe Satran, Food and Taste Staff Writer
Be careful what your ringtone is -- while having this one go off in the office is mildly hilarious for everyone else, you probably won't think so. If someone can send you this in response to your question, think again about asking it. Always do what you're doing, no matter what it is, with an enthusiastic attitude. Youtube has a bevy of wonderful Excel and Word tutorials -- use them. Take advantage of classes or trainings your new office offers -- you never know when it'll come in handy. Be proactive -- come up with a project that will leave its mark on the office, even after you're gone.
-Lauren Weber, Author of The Morning Email
I wish my 20-year-old internself knew to not harp so much about your supposed abilities and focus on learning the position. While I managed to do well and find myself in a great job at HuffPost Live, I was always that "hot shot" kid that would walk around talking about how great I am on camera... I just overall tried too hard.
-Jacques Morel, HuffPost Live Production Assistant
Meet anyone and everyone. Whether that means other interns, your boss' boss, or someone in a completely different department. Most employees will be more than willing to grab coffee with you to talk about what they do and how they got where they are. An internship is an amazing place to make as many connections as possible in a short amount of time, and you never know if those people will be hiring down the line.
-Jessica Kane, Director of Millennial Outreach
Unless explicitly told by a superior/supervisor, anything and everything you discuss with mentors and co-workers is a direct invitation to do more and show more of what you can do. There will be few moments where ideas will be given to you as an assignment. This is one of the most direct differences between school and career. Opportunities to make a name for yourself and show off your abilities will almost always come from a situation where you took the initiative without being told.
-Ibrahim Balkhy, Associate Producer HuffPost Live
We learn more by listening than speaking. When I was an intern, I was busy trying to impress my mentors with how much I knew (which in hindsight, wasn't much) instead of learning by listening to them. Be grateful & appreciative that you were chosen for what was a very competitive post. Acting entitled is very off-putting. Remember that you were hired because of your potential, not because of your knowledge base.
-Ann Brenoff, Senior Writer Los Angeles
You want anyone you meet to remember you as that friendly and smart intern, not that intern who complained about making copies. Everyone has to do menial tasks sometime in their life. Your time is now. Do it with a smile. People will remember that you did. In one of my internships in college, my job had a communal kitchen and no one ever did the dishes. I got there early every day because I was commuting from far away, so I always washed whatever dishes were in the sink while I was making my coffee. This is a small thing and who knows if anyone noticed, but it kept the sink a little cleaner, and it wasn't hurting me to help out. If they don't give you enough work, make work for yourself. Think of an area where you can be helpful or a project that you think would be useful somehow, and ask your supervisor if you can work on it. You might not fill up 40 hours with the tasks they give you (in fact, you probably won't), but they will notice if you just hang out on Facebook in that extra time or if you use it proactively to be even more productive and useful at work.
-Ellie Kaufman, Social Impact Fellow
Don't be afraid to reach out to people whose work you admire! One of the main ways I got my internship at HuffPost this summer was cold calling/emailing people whose work I had read or seen from the site and picked their brains for advice on how to enter into the business.
-Amanda Golden, Editorial Intern HuffPost World
Speak up. In meetings, with your editor, and for everything really. If you have opinions, state them. I found (after a couple internships, I was nowhere near this confident with my first) that it's better to be the person who always has an idea than the one who never does.
-Gabriela Kruschewsky, HuffPost Viral Team
Take networking seriously. You may hate the idea that who you know matters, but that sentiment is true. Ask to meet up with as many people in your industry as you can to get to know them. When you hit the ground running looking for jobs, you'll be on job seekers' radar more often. This even includes on Twitter! That's what led me to The Huffington Post -- a job post tweet from an editor I followed.
-Mandy Velez, Associate Editor HuffPost Parents
Make a case for a job at the end! Too many interns -- especially these days -- are so excited to be working alongside a company that they don't even think to (or don't think they have the expertise to) apply for a job. In many fields, companies won't come to you when they have an opening. It's just as easy to pay an employee less for the same amount of work. You have to take the reins and apply for that job. I wish I'd have made that case way earlier.
-Andy Campbell, News Editor Crime and Weird
Never stop taking notes. Never say, "I don't have a pen or a notebook." Never ever say, "I remember more when I concentrate on listening instead of note-taking." Office life in the 21st century is life in a cubicle. Think about the volume of your voice, the ringtone choice on your cell phone, the aroma of your food, and the amount of stuff that's spilling out of your work area.
*Taken from The New Rules for Succeeding at Your First Job.
-Farah Miller, Executive Editor HuffPost Family
If I could go back to my intern-self, I'd remind myself that everything you do -- from answering phones, to suggesting ideas, to even getting coffee -- all pays off in the long run. It might not show every day, but at the end of the internship, your supervisors will see that you're a team player and have an ambitious personality, something that could help you get a job once the internship is over!
-Christine Conetta, HuffPost Live Producer
Don’t behave or work like an intern; act as if you are part of the team. The worse thing that can happen is they don’t like you and don’t hire you for working hard and doing your best. You have nothing to lose from pushing yourself and striving to learn. Solve problems both big and small. If you see a problem that can be fixed then fix it. Create a Google doc and share it with your manager that contains a summary of what you worked on, any company events you’ve attended, and anyone important you met or worked with on something specific week by week. If you meet others inside the company that are interested in what you are working on then share it with them too. It will not only help you craft the position on your resume, but will inform everyone you work with of your contributions to the company.
-Joey Meijas, Technology Intern
In college, I always spent so much of my time trying to plan everything and calculate my next move. If I'd stuck to that, I never would have noticed the awesome opportunities that awaited me and got me to where I am now. I would tell my younger self to keep working hard and try to plan, but also to not stress out as much and know that everything will work out for the better.
-Carly Ledbetter, Editorial Fellow Lifestyle
Bring a lunch on the first day. You might not have time to duck out for food!
-Suzy Strutner, Associate Editor Travel
Be yourself, but don't push the boundaries of the current culture too much. You're an intern, not the CEO hired to rock the boat. Don't be timid. They brought you in for the internship because they believe in you, so don't be afraid to show everyone how awesome you are. You might know things that more established employees don't know. (Think how much you could contribute as far as knowledge on new technology!) That said, don't be conceited. Even if you know how the latest social media tool works, your more established co-workers have the wisdom that comes with having experienced a lot more in the industry. You don't want to lose their respect by acting like a know-it-all.
-Sara Bondioli, Deputy Politics Editor
You're smart, but a lot less smart than you think you are. Be humble and be willing to learn from those around you. Being on time counts more than you realize right now. Work ethic matters much more than talent.
-Riddhi Shah, Editorial Director Strategic Partnerships and Social Impact Platforms
Know that you are still an intern. One of the worst things an intern can do is act like they're full-time or equivalent in stature to their managers. And realize others know you're an intern, so it's not only acceptable to ask questions, it's expected.
-Tyler Kingkade, College Editor/Reporter
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