Things They Don’t Tell You About Internships

You may be nervous, excited, prepared or completely unprepared for your internship, but there is a lot that your university or school will not tell you about what it will entail.
We are no experts, but now being in the third week of our internship, Marie and I would like to let you in on the perks and struggles of a prestigious internship in London.

Setting The Record Straight

Firstly, many people are of the opinion that an internship is a doss and that interns don’t accomplish anything. This is wrong. In less than three weeks and with little previous knowledge, we have made a website from scratch, created several social media platforms, learnt how to manage site placement on search engines, created an Upstreamly newsletter and blog, enquired and researched various press releases through company magazines, attended meetings with people who are top in their field, created job ads, branded goods and data management.

The Lifestyle

Having just finished our last year at the University of Exeter, we are well aware of how tiring the slightest bit of work is. Unfortunately, it is not acceptable to fall asleep in an office (unlike the library), therefore coffee will become your no.1 friend.

If you thought you can survive without coffee, your internship will prove you wrong!

Warning: An internship is full on, you’re at work by 9am (6:30am wake up+commute) and you finish at 5pm. This sounds like a pretty sweet deal until you realise that it doesn’t end there. The après-work scene in London is buzzing; there are countless restaurants, bars and shops to suit everyone’s needs – i.e. they need that happy hour cocktail to miss rush hour! If you can’t burn the candle at both ends in your early twenties then when can you?

The Environment

You may be expecting a room with white walls and 20 desks at your office, but this old style is long gone. You may be working in a luxurious membership lounge or a modern/hipster office where they have comfy sofas and the staff bring in their pugs (oh and I forgot to mention they have free beer on tap).

If you feel old finishing uni, do not fear, as the minute you step into the workplace you will be reminded that you are in fact very young. Although this may sound nice, be prepared for the weird glances and the unspoken words of ‘what is that child doing here?’. It’s a slightly intimidating experience but remember that they were once the intern too. So accept the new status you’ve been given (i.e. bottom of the food chain) and show them that you’re hard-working and deserve to be there.

The Work

Warning: You are expected to be proactive. You are no longer in a world where essays and projects are handed to you on a silver platter. Unfortunately new tasks will not just appear out of thin air. Your boss will be busy so you have to create work for yourself. You have to look at your basic aims and think about how you can achieve them. Think outside the box. Think ahead. And of course if you really can’t think of anything then ask, it’s better than sitting around doing nothing.

NB. We have had the benefit of the freedom and flexibility that comes with working for a small business. We have carried out a broad range of tasks which do not necessarily come under one particular job title and consequently we have been given more responsibility. This may not be the case if you are working within a big organisation.

The expectation for some is that an internship is going to be constantly busy, doing different things, on your feet all day, rushing about and panicking about deadlines. Although it will depend on the type of internship you do, this is not always the case. Some days will inevitably be slower than others; you’ll be waiting for approval from your boss or waiting for email replies from various companies, or simply doing admin that, let’s face it, is not the most thrilling job in the world. On the other hand, other days can be exciting; filled with meetings, phone calls, juggling several tasks at once and before you know it it’s 5pm and you’ve still got a million and one things to do.

Warning: Things are not as easy as they look. You’ve got a task, you’ve done your research and now it’s time to implement it, simple right? Wrong. There are some things, for example website coding and SEOs, that will be forever baffling and it will feel like you need a degree, a PhD and an Olympic medial in order to master them.

Advice: persevere, Google is your friend, everyone else is just as confused and if you can, ask an expert – there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you can’t do something, that’s how you learn.

Remember: Take notes. I do this automatically because I’m convinced that sometimes my brain reaches peak capacity and anything new either doesn’t go in to my brain, or it goes in but pushes something else out in the process. You’re going to have A LOT of information thrown at you and you’ll be expected to remember it one way or another. So save yourself the headache and write it down.

So those are the things that they don’t tell you before your internship. I hope that our words of wisdom will be of help to some and if you’d like to share your own bits of advice/anecdotes, please comment below – we’d love to hear from you!

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