What I learned from my Co-op (Internship) experience

Happy Summer, everyone! So as many of you probably noticed, I took a little break from posting on here due to what is happening in the world right now with the Black Lives Matter protests. I have not been posting a lot my own content but trying to focus on educating myself on how I can help and support the POC community (which I encourage everyone to focus on).

Since taking a break, I have been stuck in a writing funk lately and I am trying to crawl my way out of it! I haven’t even looked at Merci in awhile but I am super determined to create some motivation and get back into writing. As I have been working and taking a break, I have collected a list of blog ideas and now I am finally here to share them with you. Today’s post was the very first idea that popped up since I am currently completing my second and final Co-op term (some schools may call them internships which I know is more popular in the United States). I have learned so much from my real world PR experiences that I wanted to share them with my fellow students!

What I learned from my
Co-op/Internship experience

Always repeat instructions/Overcommunicate 

One thing I learned from my experience is to always repeat the instructions back to whoever is giving you a task. Even if the task is super simple, just go over what you took away from their instructions. I do this every time I am given a job so I understand what the other person is wanting and expecting from me. This also limits the amount of questions you might have when they walk away. Never assume you understand what someone wants because it could get mixed up while you’re working on the project.

Always say yes and ask questions when you’re not sure

Being a student means that you need to be a sponge and just try everything! Don’t say no when someone wants to help you out, give you new work or teach you something new. Just say yes! If you are given a task and you’re not sure how to approach it then ask for help. You can try saying, ” I am super excited to work on this, there are just somethings I am unsure about. Could you explain BLANK to me?” Put together a list of things you may not know or understand and ask for someone to help. Your co-workers understand that you’re just a student (and if they don’t, that’s not a very supportive or healthy workplace), be honest about what you know and don’t know so you can learn from your co-op/internship experience.

Don’t expect your ideas to be your work

This may sound harsh but it’s something that everyone has to deal with. When you work with a group of people, you’re a team. When you share ideas, don’t expect to be the leader all the time and get to do all the work for it. Sometimes, it’s better to let someone else work on the project because they have different skills that would benefit your idea more. It’s a hard pill to swallow because humans want to own things and create a legacy (big or small), so we are protective over our ideas and work. But, unless you work alone, you need to realize what is best for the idea/business and not for you.

Focus on learning over being the best

This point is quite similar to the “Always say yes and ask questions when you’re not sure” point I shared above. But, for all of the students who are just starting out as an intern or summer student, remember to be humble. Even if you think you know a lot, you don’t until you gain experience in the real world. Don’t lie or fake it because you won’t learn anything and you will create crappy work. Now this may not go for every career, but for PR/Marketing, you will gain more skills in the real world than you probably will in school. Soak up everything and learn as much as you can. Ask questions and try to meet people who will help you grow. Even if you mess up (which you will), you will learn from it and that is the best part about Internships and Co-ops.

Ask for feedback

I loved that I got to have one-on-one meetings with my team and boss to get feedback. It is really useful to hear about the things that real professionals think you could work on. But don’t think of this feedback as a bad thing. Constructive criticism will help you grow, so be open to all the feedback you can get. Try to set up times (even just one meeting in the middle of your work term and one at the end) to have a meeting with your supervisor or boss so you can talk about your work and get this feedback.

Make connections

I love to get my work done all in the morning. I usually work my butt off to get it done when I feel most productive and then have more leisure time in the afternoon when my brain is a little more mushy. So when you can, talk to people about their life outside of work and get to know them. This is how you build a network which is important when you graduate or are looking for a full-time job. Once you have made connections (big tip here!), don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation/review on LinkedIn or for them to be a reference for you in the future. Most people won’t say no, but don’t ask too early on because they can’t really judge your work when they barely know you. Build your network while you’re young and growing so that you can use your community when you need it!

Good luck and Merci.