WRITTEN BY: ANNA BOWLAND
Many of us start out in our career by participating in an internship program. The internship may be paid or unpaid, glamorous or just grunt work. But I think most of us would agree that there is a direct correlation between what you put into the experience and what you take away.
Keep in mind that one of your best resources for growth and learning within an organization is your co-workers. Here are a few suggestions for gleaning knowledge from your new colleagues:
- Find Your Mentor – Who do you look up to and admire most in the company? Befriend this person by volunteering to work on projects with them or inviting them out to lunch. Ask what steps they took to land their position and for advice they have for someone just starting out. They will admire your initiative and go the extra mile in helping you reach your goals (think job reference!).
- Don’t Burn Bridges – Is the office Debbie Downer getting on your last nerve? Join the club. In every work environment there will be one (or more!) people that are hard to get along with. Or maybe your personalities just conflict. This is life. Learn to be productive and professional despite your differences. Take the high road and don’t burn bridges, you never know where your career paths may cross in the future.
- Do The Hard Stuff – When I first started working, my mom gave me one piece of advice: “Seek out and do the hard stuff – the tasks that no one else wants to do. This will make you invaluable to the company and you will always be an employee they seek to retain.” Look around you: Who seems to be doing the “hard stuff”. Why not reach out to that person and offer to help. You may find that it isn’t so hard after all. Worse case scenario, you will confirm what doesn’t interest you or you will learn a new skill.
- Find a Buddy & Have Fun! – This is a great opportunity to make a new like-minded friend. Go out after work and stay in touch after the internship is over. Yes, you’re having fun, but you’re also networking and you never know where your connections may one day lead.
One last word of advice: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and try for fear for making mistakes. You are here because someone saw something in you: potential. Live up to it.