Professional Development

Why you need an internship – and 5 surprising things I learned from mine

internships

We all can agree that college is tough. You’re busy checking Facebook in class, going to frat parties, and asking your parents for a weekly allowance. All jokes aside, the transition from high school to undergraduate is not easy. But, the transition from undergraduate to the real world is going to be even harder. Internships help make the experience more palatable.

I remember being a freshman at Texas Christian University and hearing the upperclassman in the library stressing over what internship they were going to get. Back then, I knew internships were important enough to stress over, but I did not really know what they were or even their significance.  As the school years went by, so did the importance of internships. Positions started to become more competitive and I began to receive an overwhelming amount of letters that began with, “We regret to inform you.”

Senior year was about to start, and I was still without an internship for the semester. I knew this was my last shot at boosting my resume, and I was determined to get an internship that would wow recruiters come graduation. I applied for the Varghese Summersett Digital Marketing Internship after furiously stalking the law firm’s website and social media accounts. I was blown away by the law firm’s success and was hopeful that my resume would stand out. I had no previous experience in law, but I did have an impressive background in marketing which is what landed me the job. Working at VS for the past nine months has been an enriching experience.  My expectations for elevating my marketing knowledge were surpassed within my first few weeks at the firm. Beyond that, I learned a few surprising lessons along the way.

1. Yes, interning at a law firm is exactly like “Suits”

For me, I’ve never aspired to be a lawyer, but after working at this firm I have been mesmerized by the law firm’s practicalities, the education required and the etiquette that is always displayed.  Everyone really does wear pantsuits, and I really did have to sign a non-disclosure. Learning about criminal law was mesmerizing, and hearing about our attorneys’ success was motivating.

2. Seek clarity

As an intern, it’s important to always know the details of the project for which you are assigned. Your boss is counting on you.  Your work will be seen by a larger group of people beyond just your boss, and although some tasks may seem insignificant, everything adds up. Work hard on every project you are given because you never know where it may end up. For me, after I was given an assignment I would repeat the assignment in my own words back to my boss. Sometimes, my boss would correct me and better explain an aspect of a project that I lacked clarity on.

3. Work hard

Internships typically come with an upfront end date, which means they are only going to last a short amount of time. An internship is your time to gain as much hands-on experience as you can so that you can develop your skills, and set yourself up for a career in the real world.

4. Be flexible

As an intern, you are going to be asked to tackle projects that may be outside of your typical duties. You need to be flexible. Be open to wearing multiple hats. Taking on a variety of projects means you will be working with a variety of different people. Learning how to be adaptable will open up opportunities for you, and being flexible with your communication style or way of doing things is essential for success.

5. Embrace challenges

Doing things you have never done before is scary for everyone, especially when you are an intern. Use fear as a fuel. Utilize it to enrich your skill set. For me, I had mentioned that I was barely proficient in Spanish. To my surprise, I was asked to translate for our Spanish speaking clients in multiple settings. I translated video recordings, client meetings, and phone calls. Spanish still is not my strong suit, but the value of taking on the challenge was indispensable. I showed my coworkers I was willing to help and gained their trust.

About the author: 

Margaret Foley headshot

Margaret Foley is a senior at Texas Christian University, where she is majoring in Communications Studies and minoring in English and Graphic Design. She is currently interning at Varghese Summersett, a criminal defense firm based in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

 

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