I’ve had multiple internships at various companies throughout my time in college. Starting a new job is always intimidating, especially coming in with the title as “the intern.” Not only do you not know what to expect, but it feels like you are at the very bottom of the totem pole in the corporate world.
I recently started my fourth internship working for Phillips Edison, which is a commercial real estate company based in Cincinnati and Salt Lake City. When I interviewed for this role, I did a lot of research on the company and knew I wanted to work here. The company culture was something that Phillips Edison highly valued, which was exactly what I was looking for. It was an energetic and exciting office filled with people who were passionate about their work. I didn’t know anything about commercial real estate but that is why you do internships. To test the waters and find what you like. This is the time to take those risks. I have some advice for those of you who are soon to be “the intern,” and how to make the most of your time at a company. The keys to success that I’ve learned over the past four internships is to always take on the big projects, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and never leave a problem unsolved.
Once you’ve landed the job, make a good impression during your limited time. In the corporate world, earning responsibility and respect in a company is a challenge. The best way to do that as an intern is to always say yes. When presented with a project or task that is out of your league or maybe way TOO in your league – say yes. This allows your colleagues to start trusting you which is crucial, as you are “the intern.” At some point in any job you’ll have to make copies and fold papers. The world will keep turning. The saying yes rule applies outside of work assignments. When your coworkers ask you to join them for lunch, happy hour, workout class, etc. say yes. If you packed your lunch you can save that for dinner and make some friends in your office! It will make your time at a company enjoyable and you’ll get even more out of the internship process.
Along with earning responsibility and respect, you must ask questions. I’ve been lucky enough to score a boss who is always happy to answer any and all of my questions, but that will not always be the case. You will run into supervisors who seem annoyed when you ask for direction or clarification. Don’t let that intimidate you. Easier said than done right? In the long run, feeling annoying for ten seconds outweighs spending hours on a project and doing it the wrong way.
Even after asking questions, mistakes will happen. My advice is if you’ve made a mistake, find a solution before taking your boss a problem. When you’re completely stumped on a project and can’t find a solution – use the resources you have to help you. In my first few weeks at Phillips Edison, my boss asked me to create a marketing strategy for our new website that was launching soon. Ideally, it would have been awesome to go back saying it was a breeze and I did it all by myself…but that wasn’t realistic. I reached out to people finding out what things that had done in the past and used my resources. I did everything in my power to create what I thought would be the strategy for the company. Although it’s daunting to reach out to someone you don’t know that well asking for help, it will be worth it. Ultimately it will pay off when you have a happy boss and coworkers know that you didn’t give up.
I found the perfect internship for me and have been able to learn countless things. This wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t accept difficult challenges, ask the hard questions, and always present solutions. Starting at the very bottom of the totem pole isn’t ideal. The bright side? The only place you have to go is up. Best of luck in the corporate world!