Internships: Love me, love me not

Photo courtesy of JESHOOTS.COM / @jeshoots at

Dear fellow student, 

Sooner or later, this time arrives for us all — the first step of our careers. Whether you have started your first job post-graduation or just identified a senior year internship to call your own, check some tips I have for you below to help you stick it out.

1. At the end of the day, your task will not always result in a grade or guaranteed feedback. 

I know — it’s obvious. However, some expectations are simply the result of a habit that created roots within our brains.

When we notice, we are there, waiting for someone to give us any piece of reassurance that the task is properly done — and it’s okay. Each job is different, and each boss works differently.

Some tasks are just the bridge to something bigger getting done, and others just fall into “no news, good news.” But trust me — if you are an A-earning overachiever or a “C will get me through” type of worker, know that A’s will not happen, and a C’s worth of effort will not always be enough.

2. Your boss will not give you a syllabus with every direction you need.

I know, obvious again. But remember those invisible roots? 

Asking questions is good, but a job puts you into adulthood, giving you autonomy to discover and freedom to try… I’ll let you decide if this is a blessing or a curse.

Instructions will come but do not waste too much time waiting for every detail. Sometimes, we receive the opportunity to gain experience by ourselves. 

3. MacBook, PC, Microsoft — what? Prepare to be lost.

Each and every detail counts when you want to show you are a capable employee. Technology can sometimes aid in this — other times it can delay you, prompting a couple of dozen Google searches pondering how to copy and paste on the particular laptop you’ve been assigned.  

Truthfully, it’s all about perspective. You can choose to see technology-posed challenges as delays, or as opportunities to expand your skills and ability to adapt. Do not get desperate if you do not know it all — you will learn. 

4. You have to be the first to believe in yourself.

As an intern or recent graduate, nobody is expecting perfection from you. First experiences are when the tolerance for mistakes is at its highest. Still, you have to believe that if you got the job, you will be capable of doing the job.

It doesn’t mean that you’ll know everything, but it means that you will be able to learn from everything. Once you believe you can, the cloud of insecurity and nervousness will get out of your head, and things will flow much better.

5. You will truly learn the meaning of words like “urgent,” “priority” and “important.”

In a world of remote work and technology, the concepts of these words might have lost their real meaning. But soon, you will learn that priorities shift, urgencies depend on each case and different perspectives, and what is important can change by the minute.

6. You will create the image others have of you.

I’m not saying this to create pressure, but rather as a reminder of the importance of details. Being on time, respecting the company policies, dressing appropriately — everything counts.

The first step to building up your credibility and making others see you as a coworker (and not as a student) is to act as such. Be open to learning, but be confident. 

7. Others’ career steps and plans will not necessarily mirror yours. 

As we go through college, we meet and create friendships with different people. Most of these people we meet in classes, and most of them will end up looking for jobs in the same job market as us. As we get closer to graduation, the lack of experience and excess expectations makes us believe that there are limited ways to be successful.

Don’t compare yourself to others. You can be inspired by the accomplishments of classmates, but don’t spend energy comparing your steps to theirs. Your major will not define every experience and detail of your career, nor will it define theirs. 

8.  Each and every experience counts. You’ll find ways to enjoy it. 

Not every job or task will be something really amazing and extraordinary to be proud of. Sometimes, tasks just need to be done, and won’t be the most fun or fulfilling. Even tasks you won’t like to do will teach you something new.

Be curious. Be ready to try these new things. The future is unforeseen, and today’s silly tasks might become your resume differential. 

Sometimes we forget that all this is only the beginning. Other jobs will come. And most importantly, our careers and jobs are only one part of what makes us the person we are.

Internships and first jobs represent a moment to grow and learn. Remember — you’re not the only one. Every professional started somewhere!