How to survive (and thrive) at your first internship

There are many low points in life. No time seems as desolate than when you are down on your luck, financially. You haven’t been in a financial bind until you have attempted an internship. The internship itself is a great opportunity but time is money; and if you don’t have a paid one (screw you and your lucky stars if you do), then it is taking some valuable time from you. The most prominent reason you’re interning is so you can have better job prospects in the future—keyword: future. Your job (as in college, in general) is to stay float during this trying but potentially ground-breaking time.

You may meet the connection you need to jump start your career sooner than you thought or decide to add another skill to your set moving forward. Internships provide growth in areas outside of academic or practical. As a person, you will grow from the experience— good or bad. Not every internship is going to offer you the same type of opportunities but it’s up to you to take advantage of the ones present.

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When you finally land your first internship, it’s wise to approach it with a positive mindset even before your first day. Positiveselftalk can pump you up before you have to attack what might be a mundane work shift. If it is difficult to increase your morale based on the duties of the job, use the motivation of knowing one day you’ll have a big home and nice car if you do this. While this may not pan out, find solace in knowing that you are doing everything in your power to make it in the world— the rest is up to the powers that be (and the illuminati).

Dressing for an internship isn’t standard these days and varies depending on the field. Cinema kids usually get to be extremely casual while business students will experience a much stricter code. Even if your boss doesn’t have a set dress code, it’s important to look presentable. I would suggest going business casual (which really isn’t a mix between the two), because it sends a more serious, professional message. You want to show “potential” employers how polished and ready you are for a real job.

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Your effort as an intern is also something to be attentive of. If you worked hard to get on the dean’s list, work even harder while interning. These are people who are already earning salaries in your field, they have more meaning on your career than any letter grade. A recommendation from the right person can land you the job you always wanted at a relatively young age. This is your first chance to show the world that you are ready to live in the real world. Surviving in the world often requires hard work and thriving in the real world is mostly hard work. Older people believe that this generation is full of delinquents and quitters, nothing impresses then more than to see young people who aren’t. Go impress your elders, they have the jobs and money at the moment— you have student loan debt.

Internships are not just free labor; it’s an opportunity to grow. Don’t just work for a company, help them help you. By this I mean, you should express your career goals and talents. If you are good at marketing but you are a PR intern, there may be moments for you to dabble in a something different. Just let it be known that you HAVE talents and interest. Internships like to have the unpaid assistance, but (most) want to give back because of an opportunity someone gave them a while back. While you aren’t getting paid, remember that internships are hard to come by and you could be the doing the absolute best thing for your career.