The “internship” often shown in films—the thankless, menial rite-of-passage one must endure to gain access to an industry—exists no more. It has become a rigorous, valuable full-time position during which an aspiring professional will learn crucial industry skills, make useful contacts within and outside of the company, and gain access to the priceless recommendation of an esteemed industry executive.
Despite the rigorous preparation, a recent graduate like myself moving directly into a job within the company will experience a major shift in expectations. From what I’ve learned, here’s 5 tips to making the transition:
Mistakes aren’t a big deal, until they are
During the internship, my mistakes were appreciated. They were an opportunity to better myself, to gain something new from my experience and move forward as a better employee. For me, the more mistakes, the better. I found myself making sticky note after sticky note detailing each solution to a mistake and putting them on my desk.
These sticky notes proved invaluable by the time I shifted positions, and I slowly found myself throwing them away as the learnings written on them became second nature. However, mistakes were bound to arise sooner or later—and when they did, they were not met with the same smiles. Though they’re still learning opportunities, these “opportunities” should be few and far between, as they now have real consequences for the company’s bottom line. Be mindful of the impact of your mistakes in all your work, for clients and internally.
You’re still the new guy on the block
If, like me, you’re with a small company, chances are you’re still the newest employee when shifting from intern to employee. Don’t be surprised if the CEO still asks you to grab her non-fat latte on your way to work—it’s all part of the job. Recognize that this is something everyone at the company is doing, whether you see it or not. We all have roles to play that are outside of our job description. Performing these tasks graciously and volunteering to cover more will help your advancement potential immensely.
It has to get done
If it’s my responsibility to get a competitive analysis completed by Thursday morning, it’s going to be done by Thursday morning, even if I’m waiting on responses for certain pieces and help from others. Part of the job is knowing that some evenings will need to be sacrificed in order to get the job done. Know that even though you’re working extra hours some days, the people around you are going to begin to take notice.
When I first began working at Media Frenzy Global, I was shocked to find people arriving early and staying until the sun set. It wasn’t until I was hired that I realized what they were doing—they’re getting the job done, and staying in late to help me get my tasks completed, too.
My advice is to stay after 5:00. The time you invest in your peers will then be invested back into you.
Overcome your weaknesses
Even though your coworkers are looking out for you, there’s no one holding your hand anymore. I quickly found that the only person in complete control of my work was myself. Any flaws from procrastination to disorganization would be magnified now that I’m producing client-ready work.
To counter these shortcomings, I needed to do things differently. I found that I value quiet time to myself to complete work, and that I needed to physically write down and cross off tasks to stay organized. Waking up a few hours early to cross a few things off my to-do list from the comfort of my kitchen proved to be priceless by the time I got to the office and began working my way through emails.
Your boss isn’t going to say that you need to do it, but you know yourself. If you need a written task list or quiet time to work away from office distractions, implement that change.
Everything is your responsibility
Did one of your coworkers make a mistake in an email blast where you were copied on the drafts? That’s now on you. My coworkers are my brothers-in-arms, as it were, and it’s my job to make sure they don’t fail, just like they do for me. Take the extra time to read everything over for accuracy. Do some research if you have to, but don’t let that mistake make it to the final draft.
Your coworkers will notice if you’re saving them from a client’s disapproval. They’ll take note for the next time they spot something that’s not quite right in your work and pay it forward.
Breathe a sigh of relief! All those hours spent grinding for free behind a desk have paid off. Signing all those papers was an experience I’ll never forget—my first post-grad job. Updating my LinkedIn profile, being able to passionately explain to my friends what it is to I do, and having a secure future make all the hard work I put in during my internship well worth it.
This article originally appeared on the Media Frenzy Global blog; reprinted with permission.
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