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Andy McCallum - 08.15.2019

Advice to Future Interns

Starting an internship can be an exciting, but daunting, next step towards your career. No matter how smart you are or your personality type, you’ll come in with ideas and goals that could make or break your internship experience. It’s impossible not to enter with preconceived notions about the company, your role, or the working environment.

Interning at Sagepath this summer has equipped me with many valuable skills and tools to utilize in my future career. Looking back at the last 10 weeks, I realize how much this internship has challenged me. While there are plenty of blogs and even books written about interning, my time at Sagepath has given me a unique perspective on being an intern and how to use your time well in that position. Here is some advice I would give to anyone considering or starting a new internship based on my experience. 

Andy McCallum is a 2019 Summer Intern at Sagepath.
    
Communicate What You Want to Learn
Understand and communicate to the company what you want to learn as an intern. Of course, you are most likely going to be given a role with a certain set of built-in goals, but I have found it helpful to be flexible and come in with a desire to learn and grow beyond your current skill level. This shows your employer that you aren’t just there for college credit but are also driven to learn and be an asset to their team. It also helps you stay motivated because—let’s face it—the job won’t always be glamorous no matter what company it’s for or the project you are on. It’s important to look back at what you are there to learn and do your best to keep in line with that. If another aspect of the job interests you, find ways to incorporate that or reach out to your manager to see if that is possible.

Make the Most of Your Free Time
If you have downtime, make the most of it. You won’t always have a project or a deliverable every moment of each day. Some tasks could be weeks long and you might have to get your work signed off on before you move forward. It’s easy to lose focus on the first piece of advice and find yourself in the rut of busywork. My experience at Sagepath taught me to think outside of the box. Find a way to make the project you are working on more efficient. If you are assigned a task that takes a lot of time, see if there is a way to streamline or simplify it so that the next person who performs the task can work more efficiently. If there is industry jargon in the meeting you sat in on that you didn’t understand—google it. In short, don’t waste your time when you get those few seconds between tasks and always be looking for new ways to improve. Not only will it help you grow, but people around you will also notice your effort.

Every Task is a Lesson    

Lastly, learn from each task. As an intern, it’s not enough to just turn in a deliverable or fill out a spreadsheet. It doesn’t do you much good to do the work without being able to explain why you did it. Even simpler tasks need to be done for a reason. Figure out that reason and do your best to get behind it. It can be mundane but recognize the importance of the task and be able to explain your work if asked. If you learned something or did something that could be helpful for a future task, take time to write it down. At the end of these 10 weeks, I had compiled a list of all the projects I worked on. Each project was valuable to me and our team in a different way and it was fascinating to see how my knowledge about marketing and strategy had grown.
    
Every intern comes out of their internship with a different perspective. My internship here at Sagepath has been incredibly unique because, from the start, the team here has been set on helping me grow and learn. My team wanted me to apply my education to real-life experience and find where my skills were best fitted. If there was an area of expertise I wanted to understand, they were more than willing to let me learn and grow in that area. I had the opportunity to work with data analytics, SEO, and digital strategy. They have given me tasks that are challenging and experience that will influence my future career choices. Hopefully, this advice will help other interns make the best of their internship experiences, learn valuable knowledge about the real world, and value hard work.