Internship pro tips from some recent grads

Break out the blazer

As you gear up for your internships, here's a little reminder of what it's all about. Here are some of the best lessons the UNiDAYS crew has learned from their internship experiences, and some tips for navigating the crazy process.

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What I've learned

  • "What I've learned from my internships is to always stay in touch with the people you meet and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. You never know when those connections will be useful later on in life. I like to think of network in a Karmic way. If you help others out in their careers, help will in turn come to you by others in your network. I got my first two jobs through networking connections!"

  • "My internships allowed me to explore companies of different sizes, and ultimately fueled my love of startups."

  • "I had several different internships focused on several different career paths that I was considering, and they taught me what I liked and what I didn't like. It also helped me rule out some fields that I was curious about, so I didn't have any "what ifs?" about my career choice. Not to mention, I got some pretty diverse experience from all the trialing and testing!"

  • "I learned that I still had so much to learn. College can put you in a bubble, and it's really great to get out into the real world to put your skills to the test. After my internship, I went to my academic advisor and told her what I wanted to learn, and she helped me pick my classes based on that"

  • "I studied abroad through Boston University in London. 2/3 of my time spent abroad was interning and it was one of the best experiences I've ever had. I was fully immersed in the culture, got some real world experience and received class credit (and did a lot less homework)! If you're considering studying abroad, I highly recommend interning."

  • "I learned too late that you don't have to be a junior or senior to intern. If your schedule permits it, look during sophomore year. I regret not starting interning earlier."

  • "I came to New York for 3 months the summer before senior year and it was a big leap into adulthood before I had my last year of college. It changed my perspective on what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to live, and it taught me to fend for myself. I went back for my senior year a totally different person and with a new hunger and excitement for graduation."

  • "I literally had a 'Devil Wears Prada' internship and I was soooo nervous around my bosses the whole time, and now looking back, I realize that I totally didn't need to be. You're there for a reason, and you deserve to be there just as much as they do! Just keep that in mind if you ever have a scary internship boss."

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Pro tips

  • "Be proactive and reach out to companies waaaay ahead of time and inquire about their internship opportunities. Look in the spring for fall opportunities."

  • "Don't be afraid to ask for work if you're bored. Always ask questions. Find out what other departments do, don't limit yourself to just the department you're interning in. Internships are meant to be a learning opportunity."

  • "Don't let your internship consume your life. School does come first. If the company doesn't understand that, they're disrespecting your valued time."

  • "I would recommend looking for a rotational type role that introduces you to various teams across the business. It helps you understand how the teams operate independently, cross-functionally with each other and which department suits your interests. Don't rule anything out until you give it a try!"

  • "Informational interviews are key. Even if the company you love isn't hiring, going on an informational interview helps you learn a lot about the company, establish a contact there, and get some good interview practice. Plus, just because they aren't hiring now, doesn't mean they won't be hiring next time you apply for an internship or even a job! It'll be great to have a foot in the door."

  • "I got my first job from an internship, so make sure to actually keep in touch with the connections you make from your internships! Keeping their email on file and contacting them after 3 years asking for a job won't be a great look."

  • "The most important thing I learned from internships is—simply—to just do one (at least). When I started interviewing for jobs after college, employers cared more about my internship experience than they did about my GPA, the name of my school, etc. Internships prepare you for the real world in ways that a classroom can't. So, don't be afraid to put yourself out there and take part in an internship—even if you're a freshman! You'll thank yourself later."

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