10 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before My Summer Internship

This past summer I had my first real internship at an international public relations agency in the beautiful city of San Francisco. Although I had worked other jobs before, this internship was a good introduction to my post-graduate future.

Here are ten tips I wish I would have learned before starting my internship.

  • Befriend your coworkers
    • Your coworkers are some of your greatest resources. They have more experience than you and can answer many of the questions you may have. When you start out, introduce yourself, ask them some questions on their personal life and background and connect with them on LinkedIn. It’s always nice to have people to get lunch with too!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
    • If you don’t know how to do something or need help, ask your coworkers or mentors. It is better to ask and correct the issue than having to start all over.
  • Put the cell phone away
    • Unless you absolutely need your phone, put it away. Some meetings may be boring and although it’s tempting to use your phone, but you should be listening and taking notes instead. Phones are distracting and you can live without it.
  • However, don’t be afraid to call people on the phone
    • For some reason, people are afraid to pick up the phone and call someone (don’t worry I get nervous too). Sometimes a short phone call is much easier than an email chain and practice makes calling strangers a lot less awkward.
  • Excel Grids are your friend
    • During my three month internship, I probably made or updated around 20 grids. Learning shortcut copy/paste tools and filtering, you can make your life a whole lot easier.
  • Your boss is a valuable resource
    • Your boss is there to help you.  Do not be afraid of him or her. If you are having an issue with a project or need guidance, just ask, but remember they are busier then you are.
  • Podcasts make commuting more exciting
    • If you have a long commute as I did, listening to music gets old really fast. Try downloading some podcasts. My personal favorite was the podcast Serial, but check out the iTunes podcast store for inspiration. There are podcasts on all sorts of different topics and most are free.
  • Bring a lunch
    • Eating out everyday (especially in a major city) can really add up. By bringing your own food, you can save money and eat what you want to eat.
  • Don’t forget to take care of yourself
    • As crazy as work gets, it still is important to get enough sleep and exercise. According to the Mayo Clinc, those who exercise regularly have a lower chance of developing diseases, have more energy and are in a better mood.
  • You are a valuable asset
    • Even though you may feel useless at times since you are just an intern, don’t. You are special and there is a reason you were hired. You have to start somewhere. Don’t ever forget that.
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