Starting your career can begin a number of ways. A few of those starting points are an entry-level job, freelancing, or internship. I have chosen the internship route.
During my senior year at San Diego State University, I was lucky enough to have an internship course that helped me find internships, to learn about the subject of job searching, and how to go about conducting that search. I had two social media internships at two different non-profits (Meals-On-Wheels Greater San Diego Inc. and CIF-San Diego Section). Both experiences taught me valuable information and skills that helped me land my current internship with Tim’s Strategy.
Some of you might be wondering why internships are great? Internships are about gaining valuable experience that will help you throughout your career. If you are lucky enough, you also have a mentor who has been where you are and wants to show you what you need to know and prepares you for that first full-time job.
Now that I am starting my third internship, there are five main things that they have taught me.
Obviously the main thing internships teach you are the skills you need to work in that field. My field of choice has been social media. My time at Meals-On-Wheels taught me how to think about social media on a business level rather than a personal level. I learned how to take a company’s values, needs, and voice and put that in 140 characters or less. At Tim’s Strategy I am learning how to work with WordPress and start blogging as well as many other things.
Being able to work with other people in your department and office is key. At Meals-On-Wheels I worked with two other social media interns as well as the rest of the marketing and social media team. Interns were encouraged to work together and brainstorm ideas to help the company gain followers and ultimately receive more donations for their cause. Being able to work together and help one another was vital to the department’s success. Teamwork is such an important aspect of running successful company and my internships have taught me how to do this on a business level.
Often times people think that an internship is when you’re a spoon-fed everything you need to know and aren’t able to so your own thing. My time at the CIF-SDS taught me that sometimes you need to teach yourself and even the people you are working for. When I started at the CIF they did not have any active social media presence. I had to create it from the ground up and teach those in the office how having a viral presence would help them and their image. Creating those platforms and building their following from the ground up was definitely a challenge, but very rewarding. Being able to work on my own with little guidance and work independently is also very important in the working world.
Numbers 1-3 (above) help give you the confidence to believe in yourself and your skill level. Believing in yourself is vital to your success and internships help you gain the experience that helps you feel competent and confident in what you do.
Once you have finally settled in to your internship, you start to complete projects, tasks, or even create things (such as social media accounts) for your company. After all of your hard work and hours devoted to the project, hopefully you get to see it blossom. For myself, whenever I would gain some new followers, get a bunch of re-tweets, or even receive compliments from CIF commissioners throughout the state about my work, I would feel a great deal of pride. You have to be proud of the work you put out there and for all that you have learned and accomplished. Even the little things like getting a comment on a blog post can help validate what your are doing and that it matters. Having pride is a key to success that everyone needs to remember.
These are the 5 things my internships have taught me. What are some things that your internship or even full-time job have taught you?
Thanks Mark Brannan for the photo via Flickr.
Read more: Social Media Can Help You Get An Internship