In 2015, the National Association of College and Employers reported that 65% of college graduates participated in an internship program and of those students, 56% received at least one job offer. The statistic drops to 36% for the students who have no work experience. The benefit is clear, but the expectations are not.
Being pulled from a sea of students and plopped down as the new intern with zero industry knowledge or professional workplace experience mirrors the dichotomous humor and helplessness of a fish out of water. Some of the faux pas associated with this transition can be pretty comical (save the roommate drama for your momma). Yet others, like not clarifying a task before spending eight hours on it, can be seriously detrimental to your personal performance and growth. But never fret! Being an experienced sailor of these murky waters, I’ve gathered a unique understanding of why interns simply just don’t get it.
Here’s my guide to surviving (and thriving!) at your new internship:
From classroom to desk. Everything changes when you go to an office setting – from the clothes you wear (I’m still not sure what biz casual is) to the way you communicate (email? Slack? text? An owl?). There’s no syllabus for internships. Oftentimes, students don’t even realize that they’re in charge after sitting in the back seat for so long; they tend to wait for others to tell them what to do. Internships are what you make of them, and it’s the time to create your own opportunities. Go see how you can help with that cool project you overheard in the War Room, or ask your colleague to show you the ropes on a new program. There’s an endless amount of experience to gain if you go looking for it.