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Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Written by Grace Turgeon

Landing an internship is one of the most exciting and valuable experiences a student can have. Internships provide students with an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience, develop skills, and prepare them for the professional world. However, internships can also be daunting and intimidating, especially when it’s your first internship. Below are a few suggestions to help you transition from student to intern and make the most of your new experience.

Talk to your coworkers – The more you talk to the people around you, the more familiar you will become with your environment and how to navigate your day-to-day responsibilities. Your co-workers will start to feel less like strangers and acquaintances and more like friends and colleagues. As you get to know your team, they will also have valuable information and tips on how to be more effective in your job. Talking to co-workers and your supervisor will help you build self-confidence and develop interpersonal skills that are important in a work environment.

Push yourself out of your comfort zone – Generally, people don’t like change. They do what feels comfortable and familiar to them and fail to see the possibilities just beyond the edge. What I have come to realize is that learning and growth are accelerated once you force yourself out of your comfort zone. This applies to everything, no matter what situation you find yourself in. Moving away from your comfort zone forces you to see and learn things from a new perspective. It is a fundamental aspect of growth and development, even if you may not like it at first. But once you have done it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. As famous author Gail Sheehy, once said, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”

Understand that it’s okay to fail – The fear of failing is common among interns. Interns are afraid of what may happen if they fail to live up to the expectations of others. But failing is not the end all be all, especially when it’s your first internship. Everyone fails at something, and probably more than once too. Failure is inevitable and it can be a valuable learning experience. Some of your greatest successes will come from failure. H. Stanley Judd once said, “Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.” So make a few mistakes. And learn along the way. You’ll be a much better future job candidate if you do.

Transitioning from an academic environment to a professional setting is a big change and requires some adjustments and getting used to. That being said, it is okay to be nervous. You are in a new setting and should expect things to be unfamiliar. Don’t be surprised when the unexpected curve ball gets thrown your way. What you need to remember is even if you are nervous, its important to make the most of your time as an intern. Whether you are interning for a few weeks, a couple of months, or even a whole year, be open to new experiences and challenges because you may never get an opportunity like this again. Take advantage of the resources made available to you, reach out and make connections, learn as much as you can, and most of all be brave. Your company chose you for a reason. Show them they made the right decision. You will be glad you did.

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