Note: This post was submitted to Student Caffé by Alexa Riccardi Cabal. Alexa Riccardi Cabal is your new unofficial internship mentor. She lives in Orlando, FL working as a new hire onboarding training specialist, and she attributes landing her dream career to the takeaways and experience that she gained from going through five internships over the course of five years! Now that she has achieved the job of her dreams, she uses her collective knowledge to help other students and interns so that they can do the same. We would like to thank her for her submission and credit her as the author of this blog post.
A few weeks ago, I received a text from one of my mentees, excited she landed an internship. Despite her excitement, I sensed hesitation. Frankly, she’s heard horror stories from friends who basically sat around as interns and twiddled their thumbs last summer. Even though she knows this experience will be a great line addition to her résumé, she is worried she won’t actually learn anything valuable.
My mentee had a point. As the summer internship season approaches, let’s hope companies are past the Miranda Priestly days. Unless they’re interning at a coffee shop or restaurant, interns shouldn’t have to get their supervisors coffee. Interns are there to learn; surprisingly, they can gain great value despite the grunt work. So, I advised her to take menial tasks in stride.
Here’s the one way I told her to see past the dirty work and make the most of her experience: complete all tasks and prove yourself.
Sounds so simple, right? It is on the surface. However, it’s difficult to want to complete menial tasks (e.g., making copies). Here’s the thing. Not all internship supervisors trust their interns right off the bat. If they don’t trust you, how can they be willing to give you important work with value?
Interns start gaining trust by completing the tasks assigned to them. Interns who have proven themselves with small tasks will then be trusted with more valuable tasks.
If you’re an intern, be sure to complete tasks in a timely manner and with gusto. Little by little, the trust will build. Be great in all that comes your way, and you will have the proof to back up your value when you ask for more responsibility.
If you’re an internship supervisor, keep your interns engaged by mixing up menial tasks with meaningful tasks. Grow your leadership skills. Encourage and inspire your interns to utilize their strengths and be the best versions of themselves.
Find the compilation of Alexa’s advice and knowledge in her guide, Get More Than Coffee: The Ultimate Internship Guide and Planner, now available on Amazon.