As an engineering student, there’s often a fair amount of pressure surrounding landing your first internship. I remember feeling intimidated by all the talk of GPAs, networking opportunities, elevator pitches, interview tips, business clothing guidelines, and the worst of them all—career fair. All of these things honestly made interning sound really scary to me. Despite all of the pressure and build up, I’ve found that much of my stress was actually rather unnecessary. If I could go back in time and tell myself to calm the heck down, I would. But since I can’t, I hope these simple facts save you some stress and worry when you find yourself on the hunt for your first internship!
FACT 1: You won’t know what you’re doing and that’s OKAY.
When a company hires you as a first-time intern, they are fully aware of the fact that you know nothing. If they wanted someone who was experienced enough to jump right in without missing a beat, they wouldn’t have hired you. Save yourself the stress of pretending like you have it all together and rather seek to learn as much as you can from your supervisors and co-workers. You’ll end up knowing a lot more at the end of the day by being honest and allowing yourself to be taught rather than putting on a brave face.
FACT 2: Asking loads of questions is welcomed!
One of the things that intimidated me the most about interning was that I had SO MANY questions, but I didn’t want to come off as dumb or unqualified. However, as I pointed out previously, it’s far more beneficial to open yourself up to learn than to try to fake it. Plus, employers actually LOVE it when you ask questions! In their eyes, it shows a desire to learn, investment in the work you’re doing, and genuine care for the position you’ve been given. So ask away!
FACT 3: The experience you gain will surpass the value of your GPA.
Hear me out on this one. I’m in no way saying let your GPA completely tank after you’ve scored your first internship. What I am saying is that your internship experience ultimately becomes more valuable to future employers than whether you made an A or a C in a class. Your first internship will give you way more material to discuss in future interviews or networking events than any engineering assignment!
FACT 4: Disliking an aspect of what you’re doing doesn’t mean you chose wrong.
There will be times during your internship where you may not enjoy what you’re doing. Don’t let these moments psych you out about choosing the wrong opportunity. Figuring out what you don’t like is a valuable step in figuring out where your passions lie!
FACT 5: You can stop stressing about finding one at the “right” time.
There is endless talk about when the “right” time to find an internship is. Some will tell you it’s after your sophomore or junior year, while others may say that getting one as soon as you possibly can is the way to go. Don’t sacrifice exciting summer plans or other amazing opportunities for the sake of what other people might say. Nobody knows your desires and passions as well as you do. Listen to yourself and make the decisions that are right for YOUR personal journey.
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