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4 Things I Learned From My First Internship

I miss my cubicle already.

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1. You're not expected to know everything.

Since my fall internship was my first internship, I thought I had to know everything under the sun about all my assignments. The fact is, you take an internship because you are there to learn, and your supervisors know that. In return, you are expected to contribute your skills and experience (as much as someone without any professional experience can have) to help the company/department however you can. Realizing that I was a student at the company just as much (if not more) as a helper relieved a lot of stress and pressure I put on myself. Sidenote: I grew more comfortable with asking questions as well. At first I thought that asking a question was showing that I wasn't good enough to understand an assignment after I heard it once. But if I hadn't asked for clarification I would have ended up not doing a good job. Always ask questions, your superiors will be expecting them.

2. Don't beat yourself up if you made a mistake.

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You're at a new company and it feels like you're starting from square one all over again. You're the new kid. Again, you're not expected to have experience with every single project the company has worked on. If your supervisor is decent and understanding, they'll know that you're going to make some mistakes, and that's okay. Everybody at the company or department has made a mistake at some point in their career. Again, you're still learning the ropes even if you've been working there for a couple months. It takes a while to learn about the working milieu so don't beat yourself up over spilled milk, it happens.

3. Every day in the office can be different.

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To my initial preoccupation, almost every day I came into the office I was hit with an assignment I had never done before. In hindsight, I am super grateful that this was the case. Not only was I getting my "money's worth" with how much exposure to different elements I was getting, but it also helped me become more comfortable with the unpredictability of work and life. I attacked everything head on as much as I could, and for that I came out stronger and better prepared for next semester's internship; I got my sea legs back.

4. Don't sell yourself short.

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Getting an internship at such a prestigious place should have put me at ease with feeling like I wasn't adequate enough, but it didn't. Every mistake I made was a reminder of how I felt like I wasn't good enough to be there. Over time I learned to let it go and reminded myself of the facts: it's my first internship, every day can be different, and learning from my mistakes is better than not being challenged. My supervisor saw in me that I was capable enough to work on assignments without professional experience so that's worth something.

In the end, I am grateful to have had such an awesome introduction to how amazing internships can be. I had a stellar supervisor and my department was filled with nice people who were always willing to answer my questions and even told me about what they do in the team. I truly could not have asked for a better experience.

* Author's Note: This post was originally adapted from an Odyssey article by the same author: bit.ly/2v2tSzb

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