By: Paulina Kostecki
Being an intern comes with a lot of pressure. You always want to be sure that you’re giving off a good impression, learning the most from your experience, and being the best co-worker you can be. Below you’ll find the five questions I ask myself at work to ensure I’m being a proactive intern:
Will I regret not speaking up?
The most important thing I have learned as a college student thus far is that confidence IS key. During my first internship, my evaluation from my supervisor said that I lacked confidence. Because of this, I missed out on the chance to stand out from the other interns and make myself heard. Being an intern is very intimidating and of course it’s hard to be confident at all times, but the less confident you are, the more chances you miss to stand out and impress your co-workers. If you find yourself always staying shy and timid at work, train yourself to slowly but surely start making your voice heard by giving useful feedback or even by asking useful questions.
Am I getting the most out of the experience?
Sometimes in the workplace, you can set a precedent or create bad habits that may go unnoticed. Bad habits can be anything from using your phone too often to being unorganized. Bad habits make it hard to get the full learning experience from your job or internship. My advice to you would be to put your phone away, go to meetings even if they sound boring, make reminders or agendas for yourself, and always take advantage of any opportunity your supervisor offers you. There is nothing worse than looking back at the day or looking back at your internship and regretting not taking advantage of the small things that would’ve enhanced your learning experience.
Should I change my attitude?
Everyone at work loves to blame their bad attitude on “a long day at work” or “a bad day at the office.” Don’t do this. Please. Remind yourself that your attitude is your choice. When something bad happens at work and it gets you down in the dumps, remember the 3-minute rule. One minute to feel bad for yourself, one minute to be angry about it, and one minute to reflect on it. When the 3 minutes are up, be better than you were before and tell yourself that your day isn’t ruined because of one bad incident.
Can I name all of my co-workers without looking at the phone list?
This sounds like a silly question, but it’s actually one of the best ones to ask yourself. Test yourself to see if you can name all of your co-workers. By this I don’t mean to name every single person at your company, but just the people you directly work with or even all of the people in your department. If you can’t name everyone, it might mean that you could try being a bit more social. If you can name everyone, test yourself to name a fun fact about everyone. I think it’s important to know your co-workers because you never know what kind of connections you might stumble upon and networking is always a great tool to use in the work place.
Am I giving more than I’m receiving?
As an intern, your supervisor will usually go out of their way to give you tasks, take you to meetings or networking opportunities, and make sure you’re enjoying your internship. Other co-workers and people from your department will also probably try to help you in some way. Because of these things, it’s important to always be sure you’re making an effort to help anyone that helps you. Stay late to complete a task that someone asks you to do or offer help to your supervisor when they have a lot to do. Even the smallest help can go a long way and leave a lasting impression.
Take a minute to step back and reflect. Start asking yourself these questions at work and I guarantee you’ll find ways to improve your professional life.
Paulina Kostecki is an intern at OpTech this summer working in the Marketing Department. Paulina will complete her last year at Oakland University this fall and brings readers a unique perspective in her writing – speaking candidly about the ups and downs of bridging from college life to a corporate career. She shares her thoughts and experiences every Tuesday to help fellow students or young professionals seamlessly navigate through this transition, quite possibly one of the most daunting and invigorating experiences of a young person’s life.
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