All it Takes….When it Comes to Internships
A couple weekends ago I volunteered at a race in my hometown–Grand Rapids, Michigan. For the past several years I have volunteered with one of the TV hosts from a local station on the media truck which drives about 100 feet in front of the lead runners. Being on the truck is a fantastic experience (except for the years when we encounter horizontal rain) because you get to see the city and be surrounded by various media personnel.
This year there was a sign hanging on an overpass about halfway through the race. It read: All it takes is all you got. The message was just the motivation the runners needed to keep going, but I also saw it as motivation that goes beyond running.
A couple days after the race I would be starting my new internship in Nashville. Starting at a new job is an intimidating thing. I always walk in on the first day with a bundle of nerves because I am in unfamiliar territory. Are the people going to like me? Am I going to mess up? Will I even be good at it? Seeing the phrase, “all it takes is all you got,” really stuck out to me as a reminder for going into an internship.
The purpose of internships is to learn more about the industry you want to work in, and hopefully get a job at the company or at least in the same field. Internships are vital in this job market. It seems that employers are looking less and less at what your GPA was, but more at the last internship you completed. With that being said, it is important that if you get the opportunity to intern somewhere, you better not screw it up.
All it takes is all you got.
I am currently on my sixth internship/volunteer opportunity. After next school year I will graduate college and attempt to find a real job based on everything I’ve learned from all of my experiences. If I had to give four points of advice to anyone looking for/thinking about an internship, I would tell them the following:
1. Do not take any task or position for granted. This includes, but is not limited to: copying, filing, compiling, scanning, sorting, organizing, stapling, etc. I have done all of these things and I would never put them in my “Top 10 Most Fun Jobs Ever,” however, each of these tasks made me a better worker when it came to jobs I actually liked doing. There is no job too unimportant–it all has to be done, and unfortunately it usually gets pushed to the interns. But trust me, if you get it all done efficiently and with a good attitude, your boss/co-workers will notice.
2. Show up. I mean, you should physically show up to work, but make sure your work ethic shows up too. You will be handed tasks that are so easy an ape could do it in his sleep, BUT that doesn’t mean you deserve thirty minutes to browse on Facebook when you’re done. Go ask for the next task. Your boss may tell you to sit tight for a bit while they finish something, but at least they know you are itching to help them. Jobs do not just fly around and land in your lap. They only appear when you ask for them. When your boss has to come find you to see if you finished and can help on something else, consider that as the cue you won’t receive a glowing recommendation. Make sure you are there to work and let your bosses know you mean business.
3. Do not be a stranger. You are aware that you are surrounded by industry professionals every day, right? Why would you ever let those chances go to waste? One of the biggest secrets to getting internships and eventually jobs is having a connection. Sure, it is possible to get positions by simple applying, but it will be hard to beat out the resumes that come with a recommendation from someone within the company. I am at my current internship because I sent a follow-up email. You may be thinking: That sounds easy. And you’re right…it is. Talk to people. Make it apparent you are passionate about the company by asking someone to lunch so you can learn more. When you are in the elevator with your cubicle neighbor, don’t look at your iPhone screen, make conversation. There is no easier way to start taking steps toward your future.
4. Ask for what you want. Yes, you are there to help the current employees with their projects, but you are also there for your own benefit. Internships are the place where you can experience it all. If there is something you specifically want to learn, then ask to be taught. I would be shocked if anyone said “no.” I know that it may be hard to believe sometimes, but the people with the “big-kid” jobs WANT interns to succeed. They understand you are the next wave of brainpower in the industry and they don’t want to hold you back. If you are working hard at other tasks, your boss will want you to keep soaking up knowledge–she is already considering hiring you. Internships are mutually beneficial, so make sure to take advantage of each and every opportunity you get.
All it takes is all you got.
It is so simple. Success is an attainable thing for those who work hard for it. Every President and CEO of the company you dream of being at had to work their butts off to get there. None of them half-way did a job they were asked to do. Becoming successful requires putting all of your efforts into the things you do. Use your passion to fuel the fire. Dig deep (even through the boring times) and put all of your cards out on the table–you never know where an opportunity could lead you.
-Aryn Van Dyke
Senior, Belmont PRSSA Member