5 Lessons You Learn During an Internship

Internships: If you’re a college student, it’s likely you’ll need at least one to get your diploma. Even if you don’t need one to graduate, you should probably go out and find one anyway. I have quite a few posts explaining the ins and outs of internships which you can find here:

  1. Resume Tips
  2. How To Get An Internship: 5 Steps to Success
  3. How To Find Housing For An Internship
  4. How To Make A Good First Impression At Your Internship

If you’re reading this post the day its published, today is the last day of my internship. If it’s after July 7th, well, disregard that last statement. I was an e-commerce intern for a retail company, and it was such a rewarding experience. I spent 8 weeks in the suburbs of Chicago working with the retailer’s digital content team, learning everything from trend curation to coding basics. I could go on and on about my experience, but that’s not why you’re here. You’re here because you want to find out some lessons you learn during an internship! So let’s get going, shall we?

5 Lessons You Learn During an Internship | Internship tips | How to survive internships | Internship tips | Five Foot and Fabulous

1. You will be treated with respect

It is highly unlikely that the internship you get will make you do meaningless tasks a la The Devil’s Wear Prada. Sadly, there are some bad ones out there, but a little bit of research will help you avoid those companies.

In all actuality, you will probably be treated with the same level of respect as a full-time employee. Employers know that you’re there to learn and grow as a professional, and they’re not about to take that opportunity away from you. As long as you respect your co-workers, they will respect you in return.

2. Working a 9-5 is actually kind of fun

Okay, just go with me here. Sure, you have to wake up early Monday through Friday, but it’s to go to a job in a field you (hopefully) love. It’s structured and you get to interact with peers during the day. The best part? No homework, essays, or exams. You have the structure of school without any of the after-hours work!

Sure, if you’re taking your internship for credit you may have to do some extra work. However, its nowhere near the amount you have to do during the school year!

3. If it’s unpaid, you will survive

I know a lot of people complain about how unfair unpaid internships are. While I agree it’s not the most ideal situation, you have to take it at face value. I guarantee that whatever you do at this internship will pay off in some way in the future!

If you do happen to get an unpaid internship, it’s important to start saving money early to prepare for your summer or semester without a salary. If you’re taking it for college credit, remember that there are student loans and other programs out there to help you out for the time being!

Oh, and by the way, all this is coming from someone who actually was an unpaid intern, so I have first-hand experience!

4. Companies are much more likely to hire a previous intern

Maybe the company you’re interning at isn’t going to offer you a full-time job waiting for you after graduation. That’s okay! You still have a higher chance than practically anyone else to get a position there when you’re looking for one. Companies value loyalty, and if you come back after graduating, they will move you to the front of the line.

5. You learn more from an internship than an entire semester at school

I’m not lying here, folks. Internships are the best way to learn, hands down. Sure, you might learn all the details of a subject in the classroom, but it doesn’t actually sink in until you experience it hands on.

Internships also give you the opportunity to learn something that you wouldn’t regularly cover in your studies. For instance, the apparel program at my university doesn’t touch much at all on e-commerce, but it’s a HUGE part of the fashion industry! By taking this internship, I was able to learn new skills that haven’t been offered to me in my 3 years of education.

Moral of this story: College tuition may cost $30,000 a year, but internships are priceless.

Have you had an internship? If so, what lessons did you learn from it? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

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39 Replies to “5 Lessons You Learn During an Internship”

  1. I totally agree with all of this. Internships or co-ops are SO important to the college experience. They give you real world work experience which is so much different than class, sometimes you can make some extra money on the side and it can help you figure out what kind of work you like (or don’t like). Congrats on completing your internship! I hope you like Chicago!

    Cassie’s Big Adventure

    1. Thanks Cassie! I did really enjoy Chicago!

  2. Very true! I have to do multiple for pharmacy school. While they are all unpaid, you learn so much that it’s totally worth it in the end. I also learned if you talk to your boss the first few days to go over with them on what you want to learn on your internship or rotation makes a world of a difference in your experience.

    -xo, Makaela

    1. Great piece of advice, Makaela! Thanks for reading!

  3. So true! and yes, you will survive an unpaid internship 🙂

    1. Haha thanks for reading girl!

  4. Internships really can be incredibly valuable experiences! As a recent college grad, it has helped me tremendously with entering my field!

    -Carine | http://www.rinnyandbean.com

    1. I bet! Thanks for reading Carine!

  5. These are all so true, especially #4! I got hired full-time after one of my internships, which was amazingg!! It was such a relief knowing I had a full-time job after graduation 🙂

    Kristen | http://www.sophisticatedgal.com

    1. That’s awesome Kristen!

  6. These are all so true! I’m actually working with our summer intern right now and it’s great to see how much knowledge he’s gained in the past month

    Ying | http://www.navigatingadulthood.com

    1. That sounds very rewarding!

  7. Right on point with these! I always laugh about the unpaid internship one. It was rare to find a paying one when I was in college!

    1. They’re getting more common these days (which I’m thankful for!), but it’s ridiculous how some people refuse to apply for unpaid ones!

  8. Yes, internships are a great learning experience. There are both goods and bad to it. I myswlf have went through one and even continue with the company fr bout a year. I wrote an awesome article on the different kinds of interns you will meet or even be here:

    Shi Hui | IreviewUread

    1. Aww, I’m sorry you had to go through a bad one!

  9. I agree with all of these. Internships will give you experience that someone else won’t have. 🙂

    1. So true! Thanks for reading, Christine!

  10. I was never in a field that did internships often, so while I never did one personally I definitely understand the benefits of them! But while I was in college I worked part-time and switched to a 9-to-5 schedule during my semester breaks and it is definitely nice having that work schedule! No homework, no studying…it was really great!

    1. I bet it was!

  11. I can’t agree enough that you really learn from internships. I think the best way to learn is by hands on experience.

    1. So true, Kenzie! Thanks for reading!

  12. I did a number of internships while in university, and they were all very rewarding! I know quite a few people in my program who got hired right out of their internships as well!

    1. That’s great to hear, Jessica! Thanks for reading!

  13. I did FOUR internships in college and when I graduated it was much easier for me to find a job than for my friends. They are so worth it, paid or unpaid!

    1. Oh my gosh that’s amazing!

  14. You also learn how to work for people who are bossy, nice, arrogant, annoying… you know what I mean. When you are an intern you are the bottom of the barrel & you learn to survive!! It builds your character & gets you prepared to deal with many different people in the world.

  15. These are some great tips! I’m sure tons of people will find this helpful!
    xo, Lily
    Beauty With Lily

  16. I had a ton of internships during college and I definitely learned more working than I did in class. Great list!


    1. I so agree! Thank you!

  17. Internships are such a great experience during college!

  18. lovelysilvia says: Reply

    Number 4 is so important! I’ve ran into people so many times that don’t want to do it because they aren’t getting paid so they see no benefit.

  19. I agree with all of this! I learnt so much from my internships when I was in college.

    1. They definitely are the best!

  20. These are such great lessons! My sister is going through this right now and learning the same things!

    The Blush Blonde

    1. Thanks Kristin!

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