Monday, June 12, 2017

Intern Diaries: 5 Things I Learned From My First Week

To continue on with my "Intern Diaries" series here on Beantown Blush, I thought it would be fitting to stray from beauty and fashion for a moment to give a recap of what I learned this past week- my first week on the job. Even if you've had multiple internships before, every company operates differently, so you never really know what to expect until you step into the office yourself. I was definitely nervous leading up to that first morning, but as the week went on I started to formulate some key takeaways...

1. Ask. Questions.

Asking plenty of questions is a crucial part of being a successful intern. Companies know you haven't been exposed to the way they run business, so don't hesitate to express your curiosity. If you think it's a stupid question, it probably isn't. Not sure how to set up the printer? Ask someone. Interested in what your colleagues are working on? Ask if you can shadow them. Wanting to learn more about another department? Ask your boss to see who you could talk to in that department. Don't feel like you're being disruptive- if the company hired you, they want you to be there, and they want you to learn as much as possible!

2. Take Notes!

Another way to show your desire to learn is coming prepared to any meeting or training session you attend, specifically with notebook and pen in hand. It doesn't hurt to show that you're organized and enthusiastic. On top of that, you never know when someone is going to lend you some useful advice. For example, within the first half hour of my orientation, one of the employees gave me a few pointers on commonly-used company terminology. Having this information on hand, along with to-do lists, general notes, your employee ID number, etc etc, will serve you well in the long-run.

3. Meet As Many People As Possible

Forming connections and relationships is one of the best parts of an internship. Companies vary in size, so it isn't always possible to meet absolutely everyone in your office; however, try to meet as many people as you can, especially those working directly in your department. If you run into someone you haven't seen before in the kitchen, don't just awkwardly get your lunch from the fridge and walk away- take time to shake their hand and introduce yourself! Employees are what make the company, so getting to know your colleagues is just another way of expressing your desire to learn as much about the company as possible. Not to mention there are a lot of kind and intelligent people out there who are more than willing to pass along some of their knowledge to the intern.

4. Set Goals 

Setting goals can sometimes seem cheesy and unproductive, because we often choose really vague ones, like "be the best intern I can be." Try to meet with your boss at the end of your first week and write up some concrete, tangible goals that you can achieve throughout the duration of your internship. If your internship is project-based, many of your goals will likely revolve around the purpose of the project and the value you want it to bring to the company, as well as what you will specifically have to do week-by-week to achieve said goals. But you can also set more personal goals on your own, such as "get together with the other interns for a meal" or "conduct an informational interview with the head of the department." Writing these goals down is a great way to make them seem more "real" and to hold yourself accountable, in turn making you all the more likely to actually accomplish them.

5. Know that You Can't Learn Everything On Day 1

Last but not least, it's important to remind yourself during your first week that it takes a while to catch on to how the company (or your department/team, etc) operates. You can't walk in on Day 2 expecting to be able to contribute a boatload of important work. Those first few days (or even weeks) are all about gaining exposure, gathering knowledge, making observations, and so on- so don't expect to become an expert overnight. That's a ton of pressure to put on yourself, considering many people will tell you it takes months to get settled in a new role. Relax, be yourself, and appreciate the opportunity you have to gain this valuable career experience!

Thank you for reading! Lizzie

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