Internship Lessons No One Teaches Our Kids

'Be humble! Don't brag about yourself. Let those with experience teach you' — yep, real-world experience is an eye-opener

Merriam-Webster defines an “intern” as “an advanced student or graduate usually in a professional field such as medicine or teaching, gaining supervised practical experience (as in a hospital or classroom).”

When most of us think of interns today, however, we envision some young, frazzled-looking kid sitting in an office trying not to screw up.

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In a recent YouTube video, Gary Vaynerchuk shared some key advice with interns. Vaynerchuk is CEO and co-founder of the New York-based VaynerMedia, a full-service digital agency serving Fortune 500 clients. His core message is that interns should be making personal connections. Their job is to communicate and interact with people.

Although an internship will teach them some functions, tasks and knowledge of the professional field they’re working in, Vaynerchuk said the primary goal of an intern should be to “make human connections.”

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There are different types of internships, of course: paid and unpaid; full-time and part-time; the short-term (one month or less) and the longer-term (three to four months or even longer).

Internships can be for work experience — or for research. Students in their second or third year of college primarily look for work experience.

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More recently, there’s been the growing trend of the virtual internship. In this instance, the intern is not physically present at the job location but works remotely, through phone, email, and the internet.

Aaron Fawzy, an economics major, is currently working as a summer intern at LinkedIn’s headquarters in New York City. He’s getting ready to start his last year at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Fawzy strongly encourages others to do an internship. Exposing oneself to a new environment opens a student’s eyes to the business world outside of academia, he said; students learn about careers they never knew existed. The experience helps them get their foot in the door at a company and becomes a critical addition to a resume.

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As for those already committed to or involved in an internship, this college student’s best advice is “to ask a ton of questions, both professional and personal.” This backs up Vaynerchuk’s advice as well. Interns should get to know some of the people with whom they work. They should take the time to have one-on-one conversations with people, conversations that aren’t necessarily business- or job-related.

Alyssa Dunn is senior recruiter for college relations at the Save-A-Lot discount grocery chain. Traveling nationally to different universities and colleges, the Missouri-based professional helped place 13 interns at the company’s distribution centers this year. The interns learn supply-chain and operations management. (go to page 2 to continue reading) [lz_pagination]

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