We all know it’s hard to overstate the benefits of getting an internship, especially one that aligns with our career paths. Whether it is over the summer—or a semester, internships offer the opportunity to build connections and learn new skills. We all seem to want the perfect internship—and work very hard to. However, one of the most important lessons that I have learned is that, and sorry for being cliché, you get out what you put in.
Personally, I think we put so much energy towards getting internships (crafting portfolios, building our networks, writing resumes, building skills) we forget that once we actually get the internship, we need to work to craft our experiences. This can start as soon as we walk in the door for our first day. I can bring this lesson back to a few of my own experiences. This semester I have been interning with Growing Up Boulder (GUB), and so far it’s been a blast. One of the reasons it’s been so successful is because of GUB’s culture of really listening and responding when the interns show interest in a specific area of the work. For example, I like thinking about messaging and public relations, so when an opportunity presented itself, I spoke up and said I wanted to be a part of the Facebook and LinkedIn team, and that’s what happened!
I have had many other conversations like this and the key is communication and knowing what we want from the start. I do have to credit the awesome culture of the Growing Up Boulder team in making these conversatiaons super easy and open. When I interviewed for the position some of the questions included, “what do you want to get out of this experience?” and “what are some of your hobbies or interests?” While they might sound a little typical, they were not idle questions. We all get to know each other and check in regularly about what’s going on in our lives. This friendly culture and open communication makes it really easy to bring up topics that might feel self-centered or pushy (even though they’re really not at all).
Being intentional about how we present ourselves, even after we land an internship, is key to being happy in that position. Of course, the other side of the equation is the office culture, so we can’t be afraid to be picky when we’re applying to places. Internships are for our benefit as much as they are for the people who hire us. We should make sure we are advocating for ourselves!