June 27, 2013
It has been a little more than a year since I started my internship with Fast Horse. With a pair of awesome new Fast Horse interns, Dom and Kalie, getting settled into agency life, I find myself replaying my own experiences of the past year.
During these reflections, the same thought keeps popping into my head: What have I learned over the course of a year that I wish I figured out earlier?
By no means do I have everything figured out after one year on the job. However, there are some very important things I’ve learned from others and a few others I’ve picked up during my journey. So here it is, time to drop a few proverbial “knowledge bombs,” which will hopefully help other young professionals dominate their internships.
Ask questions. In the beginning of my internship, I thought I could just figure it out and everything will be fine. However, that’s definitely not the case. Asking questions is and will continue to be an important to your professional development. Asking thoughtful questions to understand a project or client shows your colleagues that you want to get things done right the first time and have a thirst to grow, which is definitely appreciated.
Don’t be afraid of failing and seek constructive criticism. Prior to graduating, it seems like we all heard at least one story of an intern failing and getting fired on-the-spot. In almost all cases, this won’t happen. Keep in mind that you’re still learning and the people you work with know that. They’ve all been in the same position before and understand that everything won’t be perfect. If you do slip up a little, make sure you ask for advice and aim to fix it next time.
Slow down. This was a hard one for me to get used to, to be honest. No matter what job, there will be times when there is a lot of stuff that needs to be done, but slowing things down in the beginning will save time in the long-run.
Find the organizational method that works for you. Everyone has their own method of staying organized. It could be a written to-do list, reminders through email or your phone, or leaving yourself messages. But, during those times when you’re busy, working on a few different projects, organization will help you get everything checked off your to-do list in an efficient way. Ask around the office to find out how others stay organized and try a few out. They may not work for you right away but you’ll figure the most efficient method for you through the process.
Stay hungry. As a former intern, I can’t stress this one enough. In the beginning, of course, you’re ready to take on whatever is given to you, but don’t let that drive fade into complacency. Do little things like asking if you can help anyone with work before you leave for the day or ask a colleague who is swamped if you can help lighten the load. You’re all in it together and you going the extra mile to shoulder more responsibility will mean a lot.
Overall, try to relax, you’re there for a reason. There are times that are definitely overwhelming, but that’s all a part of taking a new step in your life. Remember that you were chosen for a reason and people are rooting for you to succeed.
By no means am I perfect. In fact, there are still things on the list above I struggle with. The point of this advice is to help you address these things as early as possible, ultimately helping you grow personally and professionally.