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What is starting an internship really like?

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Ah yes, the age old question that everyone looking for an internship asks. For the most part it’s hard to answer since every internship is different and, by nature, so is every person that goes through one. Despite this, a great way to answer it is through experience and I’m here to clear things up a little by sharing mine.

First up a little background on me! I’m an English Literature student at the University of York who just finished their first crazy covid filled year. In an ideal world I’d be jetting off on a summer abroad to explore the world, find myself and have a spiritual reawakening sat under a palm tree… Unfortunately, a lovely little virus got in the way of that and threw a considerably large spanner in the works. Fortunately, even though I’m no mechanic, I was able to fix things somewhat by switching around my plans. Instead of doing an internship in my second year as I had hoped to I would do one in my first thus giving me the freedom to go gallivanting the globe next year – if Boris allows.

Though I was armed with a solid plan, getting an internship in your first year of university in the middle of a pandemic isn’t the easiest task in the world – there was a high chance I wouldn’t get one. However, after scrolling through what seemed like a never ending stream of STEM related internships, I found the Platinum Print Marketing assistant job advert shining like the Holy Grail with cherubs singing faintly in the background. After going through the application and interview process the ever generous fates decided that I was to be successful and I got the job! A big huzzah and pat on the back for me.

However, in seriousness I consider myself to be very lucky to have gotten this job and it’s a great one too – three days a week, a handsome wage and weekends off? Yes please. Getting paid over summer as a student is nothing to sneeze at, with no student loan till September you’re on your own money wise so having something to earn you some cold hard cash that simultaneously builds your skills and employability is a really great thing.

Regardless, I thought I’d give you a week by week summary so you know exactly how it is to start an internship. Hopefully, it should set your mind at ease and elucidate some questions.

office desk

[My desk very own desk. Complete with branded pen, notepads, calendar and coaster – the perks of working at a printing company!]

Week 1

It’s always a little nerve wracking going into a new place with new faces, everything’s uncertain so you’re bound to be a little scared. And that’s alright! Of course there’s no need to be since in your first few days you’re far too busy to be worrying. Everything is a whirl of training, admin, getting things set up, getting settled in and making sure all your fingers are in the right pies. It was simultaneously frantic and relaxing since it was a great way of feeling involved and at ease quite quickly. It was probably what I enjoyed most about my starting – understanding what I’d be doing every day and what my summer would look like really helped me feel better about it all. Oh but of course meeting my lovely, wonderful, suburb and amazing superiors was by far the best part… (Shameless flattery).

Probably the aspect that’s most different to the other part time work and placements that I’ve done is the independence. There isn’t really someone looming over your shoulder the entire time monitoring everything you do, you’re just expected to, for lack of a better term, get on with it! Part of me really enjoys this, it’s great to feel like a normal member of the working world and treated like someone who knows what they’re doing already. On the flipside it’s really odd! Though university life is pretty independent, applying it to a professional work environment is quite different but it’s definitely something that is useful to learn.

One thing I will say is that the early starts were an eye opener, quite literally. My alarm feels like an extra hard slap in the face at 6:30 in the morning, for me it’s like going to high school all over again but instead of the rickety school bus I have my rickety little first car. However, once you’ve gotten a hot shower and settled into your desk the early start is a distant memory.

Week 2

Well this week things really got going! I went to Italy for a business meeting, swam with sharks for a marketing campaign, wore crocs n socks to the office every day and… yeah this didn’t happen, much like my second week which annoyingly got postponed. I was really looking forward to solidifying my place in the company and hitting the ground running after settling in but thanks to a stomach bug and coming into contact with someone covid positive I had to take the week off of work to make sure I was alright and covid free. It wouldn’t have been a great impression to be the reason the entire office had to isolate!

Luckily though my internship was really understanding and they manged to adjust my contract so that I could tack on the week I lost onto the end of my internship so I don’t lose out on any time here. Silver linings.

Week 3

This was the best week thus far. With all the nesting taken care of I got to be a bit more useful and rustle my feathers a little. Its ridiculous how an internship changes once you become comfortable, when you know what you’re doing and can provide results confidently it’s a real game changer.

I got to organise posts, have photoshoots, freely monitor all the social media, edit photos and write blogs. While I’m still getting the hang of things it’s nice to feel like I know what I’m doing. Always a nice little ego boost to feel in control!

What’s also really fulfilling is starting to see results from all the things you’re doing. Knowing you’re making an impact and being helpful is really encouraging. I’d say if you’re feeling unsure at the start hold out till you get to this stage because it’s totally different and feels a lot nicer. You can always tell you’re settling down to an internship when it starts to go really fast. It really doesn’t feel like I started this 3 weeks ago and even now this is my last day of the week and I’m not really sure where the weeks gone! With this in mind do try to make the most of it. Ask questions, suggest ideas, try new things and get everything you can out of it because it’ll go fast!

Overall, starting an internship might seem a little daunting and yes it might be a little awkward and scary in your first week but once you find your feet its great in a lot of different ways. I’ll be writing an update on my experience as a whole once I’ve finished my 10 weeks at Platinum, so stay tuned for a more in depth look at what an internship is really like!

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