Blog post by ELP Student Katie Casselton (Industrial Operations and Engineering | Class of 2019)
Internships are hard. In a short time, you want to make a great impression on your co-workers, and contribute meaningful work. This is all in an effort to reach the light at the end of the tunnel (that full-time offer!).
Having just completed my last summer internship of my college career (where did the time go!), I thought back to what made my internships more fulfilling for both myself and my supervisors.
- Admit when you know don’t know anything
This first one is often difficult for interns, including myself, to grasp. Humility is important across all aspects of life (no one likes a bragger), but beyond humility it is extremely important to admit when you don’t know something.
For me personally, the industry I focused on during my consulting internship was insurance. Being a 21 year old who is still using her parents insurance, I had no idea how claims worked or even what the various types of insurance were beyond health and auto. I found that admitting this early on actually allowed me to learn faster– my team gave me materials to read, and even walked me through the claims process for my client. Rather than “faking” my way through and ignoring a “weakness”, admitting my lack of industry knowledge improved my work and ultimately allowed me to succeed.
- Confidence is key
Contrary to my first point about humility, it is SO important to be confident in your abilities as an intern. Having faith in yourself that you can do the job will result in you actually doing it. Lacking confidence and second guessing yourself the whole time only results in your work being sloppy and your bosses not trusting you. Going into an internship, you may not have any idea what you are doing, which is totally normal. You are the intern; you are there to learn.
- Ask questions
I’ve been told time and time again that asking questions is the most important part of being an intern. There are multiple facets to this– don’t only ask questions when you are being assigned a task. If a team member is going over something with you about their work that you don’t understand, ask them why they do that. During 1:1s with your supervisor, ask for advice, ask what you are doing well, and ask for constructive criticism. All of these things will show your team that you are critically thinking about your work, and also that you care about what you are doing.
Overall, throughout my various internships, the most important thing is to be genuine. People like nice, genuine, hard-working people, so just as long as you emulate these qualities, you will not only make professional contacts, you may make some friends as well.