On the clock from nine to five—or sometimes longer—sweating it out in your professional wardrobe and lumbering around under a constant sense of self-doubt: sounds like summer, doesn’t it? For those of us unable to relax from May to September, yet desperate to stay clear of a textbook, we search out summer internships. In my case, I worked it in an advancement office, hospitality and food buying departments and then sick of suits, ended up at a dairy farm. Aside from the additional lines on your resume, the change in schedule, surroundings and company is often invigorating—if not terrifying. Here are my top tips to survive a summer in a limited time position.
Own your naivety
Despite the anxieties that come with university, by the end of first year you’ve at least developed a basic understanding of undergraduate life. And, thankfully, you have three more after the fact to deepen it. Needless to say, your learning curve is steep at a summer internship. You have to integrate yourself into unfamiliar territory in a short period of time. Be honest with yourself and take advantage of your ignorance. Ask questions—lots of questions. My rule of thumb: if you can’t Google it, ask it. Similarly establish your so-called lifeline. Perhaps it’s your supervisor, but you may also find an unlikely confident in a secretary, cafeteria staff or the supervisor of another department. With limited time to make an impact (and for the organization to make an impact on you), there’s no point wasting any in a state of confusion and panic. While you’re the new kid in town, your lifeline isn’t and has the potential to offer invaluable advice and mentorship.
Socialize with coworkers
As much as you’ll want to take lunch in isolation where the chance of embarrassment is low or run home at the end of the day, engage with your colleagues. In a summer internship, you’ve landed yourself a real-life networking opportunity. If you’re particularly confident, also embrace the informational interview, a coffee date in which you can ask another employee about their position and its context in their career. Beyond friendship, you never know just where a connection may land you down the line.
Explore the city
Whether you’ve stayed home so to speak or taken up a position in an unfamiliar city, don’t neglect the opportunity to explore beyond your workplace. Even if you’re in familiar territory, who has ever has time to get off campus during the school year? Force yourself to take regular evenings out or discover new neighbourhoods on weekends. No one wants to return to class in September with a bad case of burnout. By enjoying free time outside of work, you’ll develop a deeper connection with the city as well as allow yourself the opportunity to reboot. Consider exploring alone when possible. Self-reflection is often more accessible during the summer away from college or university.