During the three and four months of an internship year, I learned a lot about myself and about the business of interning in New York. My internship was in the advertising department of a digital agency in midtown Manhattan. The position I held was actually running the account reps who would call clients to make sure that they were happy with the service they had obtained. This was one of the best intern year survival tips I received.
I loved the adage: If you can’t say no, you probably can’t do it. This was true during the internship. Many of my assignments were in charge of trying to close deals with large agencies. I remember a particularly upsetting case where we had to call the managers of digital and cable companies to try and get them to lower their deals. It was embarrassing and frustrating on my end and it was a lesson in not saying no in a high pressure situation.
When my internship ended, I was eager to find work. I had always worked on independent projects and knew that the Internet was an ideal place to start. I found a digital agency in New York, but I quickly realized that most of my contacts there were older and less experienced than I needed. My first month there, I began to network with senior marketing managers who knew what they were doing. They hired me on the spot and I’ve been learning ever since!
Another one of the valuable intern year survival tips I received was that companies often hire graduates as interns who are clueless about what is expected of them. This often results in a situation where someone barely knows their job description. A good example of this is my intern in the advertising department. She was supposed to be an account rep and market the accounts for the company. In her experience, she was responsible for calling up clients to make sure they were happy with the services provided. On her first day, she met with the accounts reps and was confused by their instructions.
Her boss showed her how to fill out an order form, then he showed her how to enter information into the computer. Then he showed her how to enter numbers into the computer. After that, she was to call someone in the accounting department. She was supposed to follow those instructions exactly! What she got was confusion and frustration. Soon enough, though, she was calling the wrong person and transferring work that should have been done in the accounting department to the accounts department.
In addition to learning what not to do during each day at work, another of the most valuable survival tips I received was that it’s best to surround myself with like minded people during an internship. This may sound counterproductive, but it really is true. By learning what others have done and talking to them about the experience, you are more likely to be successful when finishing your internship.
The other thing you need to remember is that this will all be over in a matter of months. If you come to the realization that you don’t want to be working for the company any longer than you have to, then do whatever you can to find something else to do. However, there is no reason why you have to wait until your contract expires. Make sure to use every available resource (schools, friends, etc.)
The last of the three above mentioned survival tips is probably the easiest one to implement. If nothing else, make sure that you always carry your resume and references with you. This is important if the company is looking to hire you before your internship has expired.