6 Tips For A Rockin’ Internship Experience

It’s June 2013. How in the world is it nearly halfway through 2013?! And why in the world is this my first blog post of 2013?! Time flies, amiright?!

I had the wonderful opportunity this past spring to intern at the Ryman Auditorium (@TheRyman) in Nashville. The shows! The history! The people! It was a fantastic learning opportunity and not to mention super fun. In fact, I’ve been fortunate to have great internships (Brite Revolution and Exchange Club Family Center) in the past couple of years, and the lessons I’ve learned from each have helped me in forming essential skills for my future career.

However, I’m going to focus this blog post – and the following tips – on lessons I learned with the Ryman internship, since it is my most recent one.

So now, wonderful world, I present to you six internship tips, inspired by working at the coolest venue around:

1. Be prepared to work on Day 1.

Unlike class, where you often receive your syllabus, discuss the expectations and objectives of the class, and then gradually ease into the subject matter, expect your first day at work to consist of just that: work. Granted, you will likely get an introduction to the place and your co-workers as well as an explanation and/or training for the responsibilities expected of you. However, remember that though this is your first day at the company, for your supervisor and your co-workers, it is another day at work and they have tasks of their own to accomplish. Be ready to receive assignments on your first day and dive into it with enthusiasm.

On my first day, I was treated to a backstage tour from one of the Ryman’s rockin’ tour guides, Art, as well as a tour of the facility and the areas I would need be familiar with by my (also rockin’) supervisor Lisaann. Then I was given a brief run-down of things, given instructions on my responsibilities, and set to work. HOORAY!

2. Bring a notebook or binder.

Invariably, you’ll need to write down something, and it’s helpful if you have a notebook or binder to keep all of these “somethings” in an organized fashion. Keep together your to-do lists, passwords, notes from meetings, ideas, questions, interesting information, etc. and you’ll be on your way to intern stardom, or at least organizational stardom. Either way, it’s stardom.

3. Make a lesson out of every task.

EVERY task?! Is that even possible?! Even something as menial as making copies?! Yes, I do not jest with you – every task. I could’ve easily looked at making copies as simply that, making copies. However, from a different perspective, it also gave me the opportunity to learn how to use a hard-core office-style photocopy machine with the guidance of my co-workers. As an intern, it’s more forgivable to ask an “um, duh” kind of question, such as, “Wait, how do I pick which tray to print from?” (Answer: “um, duh, the button’s right in front of your face”) than as a hired employee.

So heads up all you future companies that may have job openings when I graduate: I can now perform a range of tasks on a copier. Hire me?

4. Ask questions.

Okay, this one’s obvious, but it’s super important, therefore on the list it goes. Your supervisor and co-workers are a treasure trove of knowledge and guidance; take advantage of that! If a task in unclear to you, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification so that you can perform it correctly. Yet, also ask questions unrelated to the task at hand. You can learn a lot by asking about someone’s career and past work experience. Got an industry-related question? Ask away, my friend! As an intern, you can learn a lot by doing, but you can also learn a lot by simply listening. Goodness knows I asked Lisaann a plethora of questions, many that were of the “um, duh” persuasion (sorry that I didn’t know about Wu-Tang…). But it’s okay, because I was there to learn, and so are you, and your supervisor knows this.

Of course, when it comes to asking questions, be respectful of your supervisor’s time. If he or she is bogged down with work, save the superfluous questions for another time and simply stick to questions that are imperative.

5. Network with fellow company interns.

If you happen to work alongside other interns at a particular company, take advantage of this! Like my supervisor told us, you are the future of the industry, therefore it’s imperative to start networking with one another now. These people are going to be your future co-workers and industry peers. I was fortunate to work alongside wonderful Lizzie, who is now off making her intern mark in New York City (you go, girl). But don’t just limit yourself to any other current interns; reach out to any past interns for the company if you can! Network like crazy. Which leads me into my final tip…

6. Be nice.

I’m serious. People like nice people. Be nice to your supervisor. Be nice to your co-workers. Be nice to the staff. Be nice to guests. Be nice to your fellow interns (y’all are not in competition with one another). Give reason for these people to remember you in a positive light. You want them to hate to see you go, right? Yes, do your work and be proficient, but be friendly and respectable too. Most industries are the “small world” type (as in, “Wait, you know so-and-so too? What a small world!”), so word gets around. Y’all just be nice, okay?

I could ramble on, but I’ll conclude with these six tips. For more tips that I find helpful, check out this post from the blog Gen-Y PRogress and keep on keepin’ on, interns (aka future workforce) of this world.

Currently Listening:

Sometimes, I go on a song binge where I listen to the same song to the point of excess. This is one of those times.

Bastille is a London-based alternative band, and I’ve probably listened to their single “Pompeii” a dozen times since discovering my love for it yesterday. The band’s EP “Haunted” is great too, available on iTunes and Spotify.

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