Recognize that familiar butterflies-in-your-stomach-feeling when you show up your first day to the office? Orientation? A welcome lunch? Apprehensiveness about doing well on the job? Worried about impressing your new boss? These are all way too familiar feelings/concerns that every employee feels their first day (heck, even first month) on the job. Having these feelings of apprehension is actually a good thing because it shows that you care about performing well and making an impact. Which brings me to my main point: how do you make an impact as an intern? Here are some pieces of career advice that every new intern at Disney should practice in order to ensure a successful and meaningful internship:
- Raise your hand at the table. There’s nothing wrong with being the quiet, introverted one on the team. Just always keep a constant reminder that you are here not only to learn and grow, but to also contribute as a member of the team. We are looking to YOU for your opinion, expertise, skills, etc. So raise your hand at the table the next time you have an idea, a thought, an opinion, or a question. Your team will appreciate it!
- Master the art of professionalism. Yes, it’s an art. You might want to sit down and brace yourself for this one, there’s a few things we have to cover. First up, communication. Knowing how to craft an efficient and concise email is harder than it looks. Let’s face it, school does not prepare us on how to handle an overflowing Inbox or how to draft a concisely worded email. We are groomed to write 4-6 page double –spaced papers in 12 point Times New Roman font. The workplace however is the exact opposite. Getting your point across in an efficient and concise manner (usually a few sentences) is key. No one has time to read an essay within an email. So brush up on your communication skills! Secondly, networking is a key ingredient when creating a meaningful internship. Networking involves building relationships- whether that is through a mentor, meeting a leader for coffee or lunch, or attending a mixer. What networking is NOT is sending out a blanket email to a dozen or so employees asking for their time. There are plenty of ways to introduce/be introduced to an executive or a leader without casting a wide net and hoping what bites.
- Don’t try to do too much, too fast. I am sure you were an overachiever in the classroom, had a 4.0 GPA, were your high school’s valedictorian, etc. etc. While all that is well and good, an overachiever in the office is not always the best trait to have. The key to doing a good job is to not take on too much too fast rather, take the time to learn and absorb the information. Much like a newborn baby absorbs information like a sponge, you too must come in with an open-minded attitude and be ready to learn. Take your time to get trained, get informed, and tackle projects/assignments.
- Check, and re-check. There is nothing more painful than having to witness a team member make the same mistake over and over again. Making mistakes is completely fine, as long as you don’t make it a habit. This can be as small as sending an email and re-reading for any grammatical errors and clarity. Or something as large as submitting a project that you had days to work on. Check your work! Does it look ok? Is this what my peers/boss asked from me? Does it have all the information they need? Am I missing anything? A phrase that has always stuck with me in the professional world is to “fail fast.” If you fail fast you learn from your mistake, and pick up the pieces quickly and try not to make the same mistake again. Bottom line: making mistakes is a part of the learning process, just as long as you learn from them. One can only be so forgiving!
- Stay hungry. Stay curious. Our most ambitious and successful interns are those who are always hungry to learn. Nothing is beneath them and they are always willing to get their hands dirty. Ask questions whenever you can. Get involved in projects outside of your daily job responsibilities. Speak up and communicate where your interests are to find new opportunities. If you walk into your internship with an open mind and positive attitude, you will walk out with great memories and an unforgettable story to tell.