How to Survive an InternshipBy
An internship is an exciting, new and unique experience. But here’s something that is easy to forget when you’re on the outside looking in: it’s terrifying. Typically, an internship is your first stint at a real-life, corporate job, and it will challenge you and thrust you into a life outside of tests and quizzes. Some internships only last a few months, so it’s tough to navigate the water and understand the intricacies of the company. When you finally do, you’re probably sitting in the conference room with a mediocre farewell cupcake from the local bakery, wondering where the time went and if you could have – or should have – done better.
Luckily for us both, that last part has not happened to me…yet. I’ve been interning at Peppercomm since O.J. took his Bronco for a joy ride; along the way, I’ve learned numerous lessons that have kept me afloat. Some were learned the easy way, some involved being locked in a stairwell for an hour and a half. Hopefully these tips can speed up that learning process so your goodbye cupcake tastes that much sweeter
Go to happy hour
You’d be surprised how different your co-workers – and you – can be outside of the office environment. This is a great opportunity to break the ice and really get to know one another. Just be sure to keep the drinks below the “crying about my ex” limit. There’s loose and relaxed, and then there’s fired.
This was my quickest lesson. At Peppercomm, interns will be given a lot of responsibilities right off the bat. I tried to keep track of all of them, only to receive a “Where’s that briefing book I asked for last week?” email about once a day. Here’s what I suggest:
- Create a “TO-DO LIST” folder on your email. Every time someone sends you a request, move that email to this folder. Then, anytime you feel like you should be doing something, you can double-check your electronic checklist.
- Go to your local Walmart (Whole Foods if you’re SF-based) and get a good, old-fashioned daily planner. Write down what you need to do for the day and cross them off as you complete them.
- If you’re really unsure, ask someone. You won’t look stupid asking; you’ll look stupid forgetting. Which brings us to my next point…
Don’t be afraid of looking stupid
You’ll be on multiple accounts, and chances are they will all be wildly different. It’s okay to talk to other people on the account and ask what’s going on, or how they would like a certain assignment to be done. Chances are they are going to be happy with your attention to detail, not mad that you aren’t 100% in tune with everything going on around you. Even if you ask, and everything doesn’t turn out perfect, guess what…
It’s going to be okay
At Peppercomm, you will be trusted with plenty, and treated as a member of the team. No coffee runs for you…at least not the intern kind. This can be stressful as all hell. It’s important to really get a fresh perspective on what you’re doing, and to never make it worse than it seems. Remember: you landed a job at an awesome company, I guarantee you’re smart enough to handle any assignment that comes your way. And as I mentioned before, you’re surrounded by a great team who would be more than happy to help you. Which doesn’t bring me to my last point whatsoever…
Don’t use the stairwell
In my first two weeks at Peppercomm, I wanted to see what the stairs in our building looked like. Not even use them. Just out of curiosity for what stairs look like. Shortly after being disappointed by the fact that they weren’t made of solid gold, I also learned that the door to the stairwell locks from the inside. On every floor. All 30 of them. After spending 60 minutes trying each floor, I sat for another 30 trying to figure out how I was going to contact my team while also trying to come up with a reasonable explanation for what happened. The former happened, but the latter still has yet to be achieved. Just use the elevator.
By Chris Barlow