Considering an internship to go alongside your studies? Here’s four things I learnt- and why spending my summer in an office was worth it…
Last summer, I completed a summer internship in the accounts department of an audio-visual technology company based in Nottinghamshire. Sounds glamorous, I know but, more importantly, it actually taught me a lot…
1. Work is hard
I won’t lie to you, it was difficult. My whole summer was spent working 9-5:30pm in a rural office that had incredibly bad wifi and reception. Oh, the joy! It was hard for two main reasons:
- I had never done anything like this before. Throw an English student into an accounts department? Yeah, good luck. Luckily, my application paid off and it was definitely worthwhile.
- The hours were long. I had absolutely no experience of 40 hour weeks-
long gone were the nights partying and staying up into the late hours (sad, I know,) and only getting time off on weekends was a real challenge- it was intense to say the least. But going from first year Uni lifestyle, to a full time job really helped me get accustomed with the reality of the big wide world of work.
2. Work can also be really fun
It really wasn’t all bad- office banter actually exists. The friendships I made with my co-workers, some aged 40 and above (that’s just sooo OLD, right?), kept me very motivated and on track to achieve the tasks I was set. Those weeks when each department was snowed under with deadlines, the graphics department had constant external deadlines for big clients and the warehouse team had numerous orders to pick and pack, were made bearable by the promise of pizza on Fridays or trips to get lunch.
I can honestly say I have never laughed so much in my entire life. I went into this internship expecting a boring office, and came away with a whole new perspective.
3. Applications are scary, but it’s totally worth it
The next thing I learnt is something that is, unfortunately, totally inescapable: the application process was scary. It was possibly one of the most daunting things I have ever done. Not only was I up against second and third years who had much more experience than me, but I had had little practise at writing applications and interview etiquette. I don’t know about you, but I find interviews daunting at the best of times.
Have you ever had it happen to you where you totally freeze and don’t know what to say? Yeah, been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Not fun at all. Combined with the fact that you are competing with people much, much older than you and with more experience, it does nothing for the nerves.
However, my best advice would be that, although daunting, the process is totally worth it. Not only might you land yourself an internship, but you will learn so much. Whether that be that you are good at thinking on your feet or you can be direct to the point with the sometimes totally random questions thrown at you, you have learnt something about yourself to help you in your next interview and put yourself at ease.
4. Your degree is more versatile than you think
This is a bit of weird one. Bear with me. So, throughout my internship I learnt that peoples’ career paths are totally different and unexpected. You can never be certain where you will end up long term. For instance, two of the guys I worked with had done music technology at university but were part of the accounts team. One of the tech supports used to dress shop windows. And yet here they all were, working in accounts and av.
Talking with people a bit older than me really put into perspective my degree, skills and the possibilities of where they can take you. If anything, the one major thing I learnt was that transferable skills matter. They matter a lot. The majority of the people in my workplace had lots of transferable skills and this is something that employers genuinely look for. For someone that does not know exactly what they want to go into, my internship helped me to learn that my degree is versatile and can open many doors, even the totally unexpected ones.
Most importantly, given the opportunity, I’d do it all again.
The people I met and spoke to on a day to day basis honestly gave me so much confidence and are some of the best people I have ever gotten to know. They also enabled me to learn the ins and outs of the big wide world of work, something which, as a Uni student, I was unashamedly clueless about.