By: Audree López
By the time I graduated from Arizona State University, I had almost 10 internships under my belt. I’d done everything from marketing to PR to editorial, so I definitely learned a thing or two along the way. Not every experience was glamorous, but I’m thankful for the people I met, the skills I attained, and the lessons I learned which I can now reflect back on—and share with you! If I were to go back and do these internships over, here’s what I’d like to improve on.
Be more vocal.
I consider myself a fairly outgoing, positive person. I can easily maintain a conversation with a stranger, and networking events are my sanctuary. So I was shocked when someone at a job told me that I wasn’t outgoing and appeared timid. This got me thinking about my work personality versus who I am around my friends. Sure, I am always polite, pleasant, and professional at work—but was that hurting me? As a boss now, the interns who really shine and stick out to me are those who are comfortable and not afraid to admit mistakes. I don’t need to know the details of their Saturday night, but I would like them to request advice and criticism, or ask questions when they don’t understand something. An internship is an opportunity to learn and make mistakes. (Just remember, there is a fine line between being curious and being annoying!)
Although I ended up scoring a great internship in New York City the summer before my senior year, I still wish I had started researching companies earlier. I knew that the majority of creative companies didn’t post internship listings or interview potential interns until springtime, so I didn’t feel the need to start looking before then. By the time I did start looking, I felt rushed and lost in the pool of applicants. How was I, an average ASU student with no NYC companies on my resume, going to score a coveted intern spot?
Over 50 applications and a few interviews later, I accepted my summer internship, so it all worked out. But if I’d gotten started earlier, I could have avoided all that panicking. By researching ahead of time, you can figure out what internship positions a company has had in the past, who the point of contact is, and even email them before the listing goes live. Although they might not be doing interviews yet, you can still connect and get to the top of their list. (I had a friend who locked a summer internship down in October because they were impressed she was so proactive!) Starting early gives you more time to do a full spectrum of research, perfect your cover letter and resume for the company, and be ahead of the mass of students applying later.
Connect with more interns.
We all know the power of networking. You shake some hands and you awkwardly make small talk until someone finds an exit route. (No but seriously, networking is great, right?) When I was interning at a large publishing company, I should have networked more with interns in other departments and at different publications. Even if you manage to speak with a senior editor for a few minutes at a company event, it might not be as useful as connecting with another editorial intern at a different publication. Why? The interns are your peers, and they will go on to work at various publications and companies, making them your key to finding new jobs, sources, contacts, etc. I interned with a great group of girls at the magazine that summer, but I never really got to know the interns at the other magazines, and that sucked. I’d have more industry contacts now, and having more magazine friends definitely could have made my move to NYC less scary. Think of it this way: if nothing else, at least you’ll have made a few new friends!
Audree Kate is a fashion stylist, personal shopper, and fashion/lifestyle blogger of SimplyAudreeKate.com. She has worked at Glamour, Editorialist, Redbook and O, The Oprah Magazine. She loves thrift shopping, lipstick and finding the most grammable coffee shops in the city. Make sure to follow her on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.