5 Things I Learned as a Student-Intern & Why I No Longer Feel Ill-Prepared for the Professional Workplace
By Tim O'Dea
This guest post was written by our intern, Tim O'Dea. You can learn more about him on his LinkedIn profile.
Juggling a full-time undergraduate curriculum, a part-time job and an internship at one point seemed like (and often felt like) an impossible task. Having so much on your plate can make you wonder if you’re capable of handling a professional career. Here's what I've learned over the past five years of trying to make it all work:
1. No problem ever got solved by keeping quiet.
Ensuring you are in a positive work environment is essential. It’s important to be as communicative as possible with the people you work with. I’ve found that you often have to be the one to start the discussion. The more comfortable you are with your team, the more likely you are to develop new, collaborative ideas. Get talking!
2. You need to keep yourself updated.
A habit I’m glad I’ve gotten into this year is first checking my phone in the morning for news updates. I recommend keeping up with the news, even if it means checking your CNN app or Twitter discoveries while drinking your morning coffee. I believe the more up to date you are with current trends and talking points, the more informed you’ll be with your work. Being familiar with current events is not only a gateway to conversation starters, but...
3. You must keep a positive attitude.
We’re kidding ourselves if we think we wake up every day thinking, "I cannot wait to go to work today"! While we should believe every day is going to be a good day, the slightest inconvenience can alter our attitudes quickly—at least definitely for me. This is why when things seem too hectic and I feel like I have no power or control over a situation, I take three deep breaths and remind myself that no good can come from getting angry. The best work comes out of people who don’t let negative energy affect their mentality.
4. You can’t be afraid of change.
You know the saying, but for now we’ll say stuff happens. When you’re comfortable enough in a role, it doesn’t seem feasible to imagine yourself at another job. However, changes happen, and opportunities come up. When you’ve learned as much as you can from a job, there comes a time when you ask, how much more can I offer?
You should never be afraid of taking on a new challenge. I like to think of work experiences as a big suitcase: you go through your career picking up all the tools and insights you need to succeed, so that when you’re ready to head somewhere different, you pack up and go. And if you’ve already built strong relationships in your work environment, they’ll be sad to see you go, but more than happy to help you pack.
5. You can’t do it alone.
It may be cliché, but it's true: teamwork makes the dream work. Before entering my last semester of college, I considered myself to be an independent worker. After working in four collaborative capstone projects, I can tell you nothing is more untrue about me. I found that I thrive with group work. It can be stressful (like any job) but knowing you have a constant support system and colleagues that you can depend on is what makes a team great.
Work teams aren’t necessarily permanent (what job is?) but if you build strong enough of a dependence on each other, even when the work is complete and it’s time to start another chapter, you can always consider these people on your team.
Co-founder Jill Hinton Wolfe is a communicator, entrepreneur and Army veteran who is passionate about the outdoors and designing surprising and unique challenges for all sorts of clients, all over the world.