When I first found out I’d gotten a summer internship in NYC, I remember jumping off my bed and dancing around the room. Everything seemed perfect. I had my dream internship and was going to spend a summer in the greatest city on earth. Fast forward to June, and I was still overflowing with excitement on my first walk to work.
“You’re late,” was the first thing my supervisor said to me when I introduced myself on my first day.
My excitement level dropped immediately. She wasn’t the type of supervisor I was expecting. She was dressed in shorts, a cropped top, and flip-flops. I apologized for my tardiness, but she didn’t even look up from her computer screen.
“Just get to work,” she said. So, that’s what I did. In fact, working was all I did all summer. I didn’t have the fun and adventurous summer in the city that I had expected. At the time, I hated my internship. This firm only had two employees, so my duties went above and beyond what was expected of a typical intern.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I learned a lot more than just how to write press releases and pitches that summer—I learned how to turn a negative experience into a positive one.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t stress out about it. I’m here to tell you what no one told me about summer internships.
1. Don’t make excuses
You’re going to make mistakes at some point during the internship, and that’s OK. Own up to them and don’t make excuses. If you’re running late one day, don’t tell them an elaborate story. Give a simple apology, and then get back to work. Internships are supposed to be learning experiences.
Sometimes it felt like my supervisor expected me to know everything, and I didn’t always live up to her expectations. The only way to handle this is to acknowledge that you’re not perfect, learn from it and move on.
2. Get it done
Like Tim Gunn’s famous line from Project Runway, you’ve got to “make it work” at all costs. I received a lot of assignments that I just didn’t want to do. Some of them were difficult, some were time consuming and others I just didn’t know how to do. This is when you have to be resourceful and do whatever it takes to get it done. I actually found myself Googling “how to write a press release” a few times.
Internships are meant to challenge you, so don’t feel discouraged.
3. Stay positive
It’s going to be tough, but try your best to stay positive at all times. This isn’t easy to do, especially when everyone around you seems to be excelling at their internships like they’ve been in the industry for years.
Give yourself a treat by having Frappuccino for breakfast or your favorite meal for lunch. Make fun plans with friends at night to make a rough day end on a good note. Having a good time outside of your internship will make the overall experience much better