Internships can be very intimidating. As students, we often stress ourselves about not having enough knowledge, lacking professionalism and other key aspects of being a business professional. However, it is vital that we shift our perspectives to focus on enjoying the amazing opportunities that are already in front of us. This summer, as I interned with a Big Four accounting firm, there were five key things that made my internship experience phenomenal. As you read through my five tips, think about how you can implement them throughout your next internship.
Once you begin your internship, be sure to shake off your nerves and begin your day with a positive attitude. Do your best to maintain that attitude throughout the day. Employers are always watching and the emotion you bring onto a team can affect the moods of everyone you are working with. Accounting work will not always be exciting or glamorous, so you have to be sure to bring in that excitement yourself. Help create a positive and welcoming environment that you want to come to everyday.
Don’t be Afraid to Network with Your Team
Your employers are human beings just like you. Years, months and even weeks prior, many of them have been in the same position you’re in right now. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by their status. Learn from them. It is in your best interest to take time out of your busy schedule to grab lunch, have a coffee break, or possibly just take a walk with the people you work with. You’ll find that a majority of the time, if not always, they have some great advice you should consider taking.
Ask Questions Effectively
There will be times where you are given an assignment and halfway through you run into a small problem. When this happens, take all of the logical and necessary steps to solve the issue. Practice responsibility. Take notes and go back through them a few times, just in case the solution is right in front of you. However, do not make the mistake of spending too much time on a project or task. If you can move on, make sure to write down your question and finish as much of the assignment as you can before asking for help. Most importantly, do not be afraid to ask. Everyone on your team is there to complete a task and do it correctly. It is okay to reach out for assistance if that means having a better end product.
Have a Strong Work Ethic
There may be times where you are given a task that you do not want to do or that you see little value in. Though it may not be as rigorous as the classes you’ve taken prior, you should never come off as if you are too good for the work. Take each assignment seriously and if you are going to do something, always do your best. When you are working on a difficult task, you may not even have the skills to complete it perfectly. The point is not to be perfect, the point is having the ability to learn and become better. To have a strong work ethic, there is no trying - only doing. As long as you are doing the best you can, no one can ask more of you than that.
Your internship is about YOU! It is meant for you to be exposed to the organization and field while the stakes are still low, so take advantage of the experience. Employers want to get to know you, and it is your job to be sure that you are opening yourself up. When you are not yourself, it is difficult to connect with people around you. You’ll never give yourself the chance to see if that is where you will fit in the future. Many firms push strongly for you to be your authentic self, and many people can tell when you’re not. It will become a challenge to build long-lasting relationships. You will begin to notice that when you choose to be yourself, your comfort level will increase if that is where you belong. Always remember, no one else can be a better you than yourself, so do what you do best.