My internship with CharlotteFive this summer was nothing like I expected it would be.
I assumed I would be running out for coffees, filing paperwork, etc. — like you see in the movies.
Instead, I was thrown right into work. My first week, I was conducting interviews, attending social media preview events and writing stories for publication.
While my other friends complained about how they performed pointless tasks and conducted unnecessary research and did other ‘busy work’ at their internships, I did quite the opposite.
Here are five ways you can get the most out of your internship:
(1) Ask questions.
Your bosses are not different lifeforms, they are humans just like you and me (I can not even begin to tell you how many times I hear of other interns being too nervous to approach their boss). They were interns once, too.
If you are stuck on something, ask questions. It’s better to ask questions right off the bat than assume you’re handling something correctly when you actually aren’t and have to re-do the entire task. Then you are wasting both you and your bosses’ precious time.
Also, if you come up with a creative idea, make suggestions. And with that, exert some confidence. Don’t let it get in your head that you are young and inexperienced, because the young and inexperienced sometimes have the best ideas.
(2) Give yourself perspective.
Sure, there was one day that I spent a couple of hours manually inputting hundreds of emails into the server, but it didn’t matter. I really didn’t care. Because I knew that a few weeks before, being the intern for C5 allowed me to meet the artist whose work I’ve been obsessed with and following on social media for the past few years, and talk to the founder of the Major League Triathlon.
When you take a look at the little tedious tasks from a more positive perspective, the small things truly seem so small.
(3) Apply what you are learning in school to your intern work.
As much as you think the classes you take in college seem irrelevant, your professors can provide you with the tools that allow you to excel during your time as an intern.
My feature and magazine writing professor constantly told me to paint a picture when a picture needed to be painted. So, when I wrote an article for C5 about Amelie’s French Bakery coming to Park Road, I wanted my readers to get a feel for what the space would look like:
“This new 5,400 square-foot location will also have some minor differences from Amelie’s at Uptown, Carmel Commons and NoDa. It will have a big outdoor patio so that customers can sip on lattés and nibble on pastries outside. It will also have a mezzanine seating area with internet connection, perfect for both people watching and Snapchatting while on WiFi.”
Don’t forget: Amelie’s opens on Park Road Saturday.
(4) Learn from your mistakes.
You’re an intern. You have some leeway to make mistakes, and that’s okay. Learn from them so you don’t make the same mistake twice.
That being said, if you do make mistakes, don’t try to cover them up or defend yourself. You are getting good experience and practice before you are thrown into the real world and your mistakes actually matter, and your bosses know that. Accept your mistakes.
(5) Accept constructive criticism.
As an intern, your bosses are essentially like teachers. They are guiding you in how to do things out of your comfort zone or things you’re not yet good at.
Therefore, if you’re not confident with the work you’re producing, ask for feedback. Your bosses will appreciate you genuinely caring about your work and not just looking at this internship as a resume booster.
And if you receive constructive criticism, accept it. In one of my first personal pieces, on why I want to live in Charlotte full-time after college, one of my editors, Katie, told me that instead of simply listing my reasons why I love Charlotte so much, provide examples for each reason. Don’t simply say that I love how Uptown is green, but name a green spot that I love oh so much.
And I did as much just describing these five ways you can get the most out of your internship. I’m sure Katie is a very proud mentor right now. (Editor’s note: She is!)
And that’s a wrap. It’s been real C5.