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What to Look for
In Your Internship

October 2, 2019

Everyone is anxious going into an internship, whether it is their first one or their third.  After all, you’re about to start working in a place where you don’t know anyone and where you’re expected to take in a lot of information all at once. Some of these first day jitters can be alleviated, however, by knowing what to look for in your internship and understanding how to get the most out of it.

         The main thing you want to look for in an internship is the opportunity to learn what you can’t in the classroom. Your college courses will teach facts, and if you are in a technical major, you will probably learn some hard skills as well.  However, all this pales in comparison to what you learn through genuine, on-the-job experience.  At an internship, you will be working alongside people with years of experience in the field and who can teach you about trends in your industry that university classes often are too busy to track. Your attitude about what you want to do may change at your internship.  You may have enjoyed learning about your chosen field in class, but once you started doing the tangible work, you found that it did not align with your interests like you thought. That is okay, and it is one of the purposes of an internship. You are trying out what you think you want to do without committing to it full-time, and if you find that it isn’t what you thought, you have learned something new about yourself and your goals.

         It is also important to remember that just as every company is unique and has its own culture, they all have different missions for their interns as well. When I first talked to Kevin and Steve here at GEM they emphasized the fact that the intern experience was all about me and my goals.  I was not going to be stuck in one department and become a cog in a machine. That is not what they are about.  Kevin said to me, and I paraphrase a little, “If you are thinking during the summer, ‘This stinks’ I want you to be honest with me so I can find a place for you in our company that will suit your interests better.”  When I first began at GEM in May, working in the web development field, my colleague who would be showing me the ropes had put together a full curriculum of web development fields for me to learn, hoping I would get the most out of the internship before going back to school. When I decided later on that web development wasn’t for me, my bosses worked with me to find the right place, and I then switched to content writing, which (as you can see) I am still doing. GEM emphasizes that every employee is not a number, but a person, and my fellow intern and I can both say that this approach has been rewarding. 

         No matter how it goes, you will always come out of your internship with something valuable if you make an effort.  It might be a full-time offer, positive references or a motivation to switch career paths entirely. An internship is one of the most important experiences you will have, so immerse yourself in it and make it worthwhile.

Written By: Anthony Luparello

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