Intern To Employee: Lessons I’ve Learned

Best Practices, Workplace

By Kaleb Vik

When I started my internship at Red Branch a few short months ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew I wouldn’t be the stereotypical coffee-fetching intern, but there was no way to prepare for the dynamic caliber of work that was ahead of me. From day one, I was learning the in’s and out’s of B2B digital marketing – and what it takes to be the best. This was a sink-or-swim atmosphere, and the complexities of this type of work made me realize the challenge ahead.

Everything from daily copywriting and weekly blog posts to HTML code and email creation was new, but I acted as a sponge – absorbing everything I could. When you’re in the moment, you don’t realize the amount of information you’re acquiring and adapting to. Looking back now, I realize just how powerful the process is. Every internship will be different, but take the advice below as a guide to develop your skills efficiently. Use this information as a tool to aid in your success, and in no time, you’ll transform your college internship into the career of your dreams.

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Get – And Stay – Organized

If you’re a student taking in an internship, I’d be willing to bet your schedule is already demanding. Factoring an internship into your already long list of classes, volunteering, social life and other obligations can seem nearly impossible. This is where organization can save the day.

Check out this list of techniques I’ve used to stay on track:

  • Set a to-do list. This is one of those things that everyone really should do, but so many don’t. As humans we strive on structure; it’s what helps us create plans and form habits. This is why an entire day can be wasted watching Netflix when you don’t set a schedule for yourself. There are a ton of list methods you can use, and 6Things, 1-3-5, Eisenhower Quadrant are only a few. The important factor is to find a method that works for you and stick to it.
  • Worship your deadlines. For me, procrastination and I have been close friends throughout most of my academic career. I know it feels better to get things done ahead of time, so why do I still put things off? This is partially due to a lack of a structured plan that works for me and sticking to it. Setting deadlines and creating a plan to complete goals will not only increase satisfaction but productivity as well.
  • Give everything 110%. If you haven’t noticed yet, all three of these points go hand in hand. When you set a to-do list, you’re creating an attainable path to reach whatever goal you have, whether it be getting in shape or finishing the assignment your new boss just gave you. When you worship these predetermined deadlines, you eliminate the likelihood of creating excuses. Now, when you set these goals and give them relentless effort, the possibilities are endless.

While these techniques can be applied to pretty much any aspect of life, they have been especially helpful after I started working at Red Branch. Balancing 5-6 classes a semester with a 30+ hour work week can seem like a daunting task. However, once I started applying the tools addressed above, everything became much more manageable.

Powerful advice to make an effortless transition from #intern to employee: Click To Tweet

Ask & Listen

When beginning your new internship, acting like you know everything is the best way to learn nothing. The purpose of an internship is to learn as much as you possibly can, so if you don’t know something there are a few simple steps to take.

The best place to start with any questions is here. This ensures you’re not wasting other people’s precious time with your easily-searchable questions. If the question isn’t easily answered, the next step is to ask a colleague. If you’re the newest intern, then everyone you’re working with has more experience at this job than you. Asking well thought out questions is one of the best ways to gain knowledge and experience. However, if you don’t listen and absorb what’s being said, you’re not learning anything and wasting your helpful colleague’s time. Use this information from those with experience as a way to improve your skills and gain practical insights.

Be Confidently Humble

During your internship, you’re likely going to have moments where you’re asking yourself, “How is this small task going to show off my talents and help me get ahead?” It’s important to be self-aware at this point. While you may feel a sense of pride when you land that sought-after internship, you have to remember you’re still just an intern. Keep your ego in check and develop a solid work ethic so you build rapport with coworkers. They may not call all the shots, but happy coworkers who see your value can become advocates for your career – in that company or elsewhere.

You’ll also have moments where you think, “Oh no—I’ve never done this before, how am I supposed to actually get this accomplished?” This is where you have to believe in your own abilities. You’ve spent years in school learning the trade, so you have some knowledge of how things work. Believing in your abilities will not only show supervisors that you’re capable of working through adversity, but also strengthen your level of self-awareness.

Last, But Not Least

Nothing is going to happen magically. You have to put in the work to get the results. The internship, it is what you make of it. If you use the internship as a learning experience and utilize the advice outlined above, you are much more likely to achieve your goals.

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