With these simple suggestions, so can you.
by Guest Blogger Jane Olsen (name has been changed for privacy reasons)
My career of choice – publishing – is a very apprenticeship-based industry. Having an internship – or two, or more – under your belt is practically a prerequisite for any entry-level job. This summer I was lucky enough to land an internship in New York City. Yikes, but I learned a lot in two short months!
If you’re going to be looking for an internship, here are some simple suggestions that can help you earn a place at the table – and make them want to ask you back.
1. Use your network to find a job. I started working on getting internships for this summer last December. I made sure that all of my family members, friends, peers, and professors knew that I was looking for experience in the publishing industry. And, lo and behold, my grandma called me one day to tell me that my second cousin’s friend’s daughter’s friend’s mother works at a magazine in New York and was interested in helping me out. My second internship, at a literary agency, came about in much the same way. So cast your net far and wide – you never know where you’ll find the connections that count.
2. Accept any internship that comes your way, whether the job is paid or not, in your industry or not. While I was looking for a paid internship in the book publishing industry, accepting my internship at a well-known magazine was an incredible decision. I’ve learned how to work as a member of a professional editorial team and how to market writing to the consumer. I understand professional hierarchy more than I did before and have learned that if you’re qualified for a job, you’re qualified for a job. (In other words, don’t be afraid to accept a job just because you feel it’s a stretch – they’re not going to hire you unless they believe that you’re the right fit.)
3. Don’t be intimidated by the city. A random but very important fact about New York City: It isn’t the intimidating place we see so often depicted in movies and on television. It’s pretty much a town like any other. That means that the best way to fit in with your temporary work/life environment is to blend in with the locals. In New York, blending in is pretty simple: Don’t get in the way of other commuters on the subway; have your MetroCard ready when you enter the station; walk quickly and make room for others on the train. Oh, and know which train you need to be on. Not sure? Give yourself a little extra time to make mistakes.
You might also try wearing sunglasses in the subway (well, okay, that part is optional, but it does give me a certain air of je ne sais quoi, even if I do say so myself). Simply put, no one is going to know you’re an intern in the city for the first time unless you tell them, so have confidence in your rightful place as a [temporary] New Yorker.
4. Prove that you’re grateful for the opportunity your employer has given you. It’s easy to be the bright-eyed and eager intern your first two weeks, but it takes real dedication and passion to want to lick your boss’s shoes the entire time you have the job. While I haven’t literally licked anyone’s shoes, I gladly gave up my first weekend during the internship to finish a job that needed to get done. No one asked me to take the work home but I wanted to prove how happy I was to have the job. And my hard work paid off.
Not only did my supervisor’s supervisor tell me that while she normally hates interns, she thinks I’m awesome, but my supervisor’s supervisor’s supervisor told me that she loves me and gave me a gift certificate for a free pedicure to prove it. While I gladly put in the extra hours to establish myself as the willing intern, I solidified my relationship with my employers and will most likely be getting a great recommendation at the end of my time here.
5. Cherish your time at your internship. Both my internships only lasted two months and I just left New York two days ago. Time has never flown more quickly. By the time I really felt at home here, a month had gone by. I felt like I would never have enough time to accomplish everything that I wanted to do.
Then again, there will always be lots more that I want to learn – and plenty more tourist sights to see.
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