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Intern Survival Guide

July 31, 2019

By: Taylor Felz, ATI Nursing Education Marketing Intern

This is my second full-time summer internship, and I am happy to say that I feel much more prepared for this one than I did for the last. Part of that is no doubt thanks to the overwhelmingly kind people that I get to work with here at Ascend. But mostly, I feel more prepared because I now have some knowledge about the inner workings of an internship that I wish I would have had last summer.

Here are five of the things I wish someone would have told me before I started my first internship.

 1.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I really wanted to impress my boss and coworkers at my first internship right out of the gate. I wanted to show them how great of a worker I was and how much knowledge and experience I had. However, in my efforts to seem like I “knew what I was doing,” I discovered that I actually had no idea what I was doing, but I was too scared to ask for help because I didn’t want to seem dumb.

Newsflash: no one on your team expects you to know everything right away, and no one is going to think you are dumb for asking questions. In fact, asking for more information shows that you care about doing well in your position. Make a point to ask any and every question that you think of during your first few weeks, no matter how small or silly they seem.

2. Develop a routine. The schedule for working a full-time office job seems simple enough. Show up on time, do some work and leave eight hours later (plus however long you took for lunch). But if you’ve never worked a full 40 hour week before, you’d be surprised at how easy it is for little things to throw you off of your groove. Getting into a good routine both the night before and the morning of the work day ensures that you’ll be as timely and productive as possible. My routine includes:

  The night before work:

  • Pack a lunch because eating out every day is super expensive
  • Pick out tomorrow’s outfit and iron anything wrinkly
  •  Make sure everything that you need is in your purse/bag (keycard, Chapstick, wallet, etc.)

   In the morning:

  • Take a quick glance at your calendar so when you get to work, you already know what to expect for the day and are ready to get started 
  • Check the weather… not that we ever know what the Midwest weather is going to do anyways, but it’ll make you feel prepared
  • Make/buy yourself coffee  to start your day off right and avoid a possible coffee drought at the office later

3. Take breaks and keep moving throughout the day. Sitting for eight hours a day, even though you are at rest, is somehow the most exhausting thing ever. It’s important to get up and move around every so often to clear your head and help you stay focused. If you have an exercise or smart watch, make use of the setting that reminds you to walk or move every hour. If you don’t have a watch, set a recurring reminder on your phone or computer instead.

4. If you want more work, ask for it. I ran into an unfortunate situation at my last internship where I ran out of things to do after completing all of the tasks assigned to me. At first, getting paid to just hang out and not do much sounded awesome, but I quickly learned that being bored at work is excruciating. Not only that, but internships are meant to provide valuable learning experiences, and any time that you are not enhancing your skills or learning something new is time wasted.

If you run out of things to do or simply want to try your hand at a different kind of work or project, don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor for more opportunities. They will likely be happy to have the additional help and you will be happy to have something new to contribute to.

5. Keep track of everything that you do during your internship. How many times have you gotten home from work or school and had your parents ask “so what did you do today?” and even though you did a ton of different things, you answer with, “I don’t know, stuff.” Would you give that same answer if the question had come from an employer in an interview? Summer internships fly by, and if you don’t make a point to do some reflection on everything that you accomplish during these few months, you’re likely not going to be able to recall everything that you did.

One of the things that my school required me to do to receive credit for my internship was keep a weekly log of everything that I did at work and how it relates to my major or benefited me in a professional way. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that assignment would be one of the most valuable things that I got to take away from that internship experience. I used it to update my resume, refresh myself about all of my qualifications before an interview, and build my professional portfolio as a whole. It takes only a few minutes at the end of each week to jot down what you accomplished, and the pay-off is so rewarding. 


About the author: Taylor Felz

School: Northwest Missouri State University

Major: Marketing and Business Management

Year Entering: Senior

Team/Dep’t: Marketing – ATI