8 months ago, I started my first internship ever with the Washington Wizards. Going into it, I had no idea what to expect and what I was going to learn during the course of it. Thankfully, the supervisors that were able to mentor me gave me guidance on what I could do to get the most out of my time there. They also gave me the freedom to learn on my own and figure things out for myself, which ultimately helped me in the long run. I compiled a list of things that you should do in order to get the most out of your internship and ultimately help to shape your career.
Put 110% into every task.
I’m not going to lie, some of the tasks that I had to do during my internship were not fun. From unboxing hundreds of bobbleheads, taking inventory of jerseys, or going on “field trips” outside of the arena to deliver/pick up things, I did everything under the sun. Although these tasks are sometimes repetitive and not ideal or even in your job description, they have to get done. Your job as an intern is to help your department out in any way even if they are tasks that you don’t want to do. My advice for approaching tasks like this, or even any task at all, is to put in 110% every time. Work hard until the job is finished. The faster you start, the quicker it gets done. Instead of complaining and putting the task off because you may not feel like doing it, complete it as soon as it is given to you. The key is efficiency… If you show your supervisor that you are willing and able to do the tasks that you are given in a timely manner, this leaves a great impression in the long run if you go to apply for a job within the company. They will be able to vouch for you because you have proven to them that you are a hard worker.
Shadow in other departments.
Throughout your internship, there’s no doubt that you will have free time to explore different areas of the company and be able to branch out to other departments that you may not interact with on a daily basis. It’s important to try to learn how other departments work and how business is conducted in them. In order to be the most well-rounded intern, you need to step out of your office and meet other people who work in the same building that you do. Try and build a connection with these people and if time allows, ask them if they have anything that needs to be done or projects that you can work on. Explore as many options as you can because you never know when is the next time you will have the opportunity to do so. One thing that I failed to do with my first internship was actually put myself out there and step outside of my everyday environment. You should also try and ask if you can shadow someone in a department that interests you. More than likely, there is someone in a role that you want to be in that was once in your shoes, and from my experience, they are more than willing to talk to you and answer any questions that you may have. Make sure that you are also prepared with questions to ask and that you are shadowing in a department that actually interests you. You want to get the most out of the time that is set aside for you and not give them the impression that you are just reaching out just because.
As much as I hate to say, who you know gets you farther than what you know. Especially in sports, it is so hard to get your foot in the door and land an opportunity with a sports organization. Talk to people in your office as much as you can and build a relationship with them. Ask them questions of how they got there and what their end goals are. People in your office come from all different backgrounds and may have a connection with an organization that you are interested in for the future. Don’t forget to also build a connection with the other interns as well. These interns could end up being a way for you to land a job at a company they work for in the future or they could end up being your boss one day. I still keep in contact daily with the interns that I met during my internship with the Wizards.
Listen first, then ask questions.
Some days are going to be busier than the next, but it is always important to listen to everything that you are being assigned before asking questions. Make sure that you are fully focused on what your supervisor is saying because some tasks are going to be more complex than others. It is ok to ask questions for clarification after, especially if you are not sure if you heard everything the first time. The worst thing that you could do is guess on a task because you don’t want to do something and then have to do it over again because you were unsure about something.
Your notepad is your best friend… use it!
The most important thing that I used every day was my notepad. I literally would write every single thing down that I needed to do because sometimes I would forget certain things especially if it was a busy day. It is also key to write things down when you first start because you aren’t going to know where anything is or how to do things the way that your supervisor likes them done. Be detailed when writing down how to do things because you don’t want to have to continue to ask questions. I also used my notepad to write down everything that I needed to do during the day. Even if tasks are sent to you in an email, it still helps to write everything out on paper so you can visually see what needs to get done. Depending on whether or not you are taking your internship for credit, some schools require you to keep a log of the things that you accomplished on a weekly basis. This notepad will help you to look back and know exactly what you did for those reports.
Do more than you are asked.
When interning, you want to try to leave the best impression that you can on your supervisor and show them that you are a hard worker. Try and complete any tasks that are given to you in a timely manner, but when you are done, tell them immediately and ask if they have anything else that you can work on. You are ultimately there to help your supervisor out and sometimes they can get so busy and caught up in stuff that they are doing (especially in the sports industry), that they may not know how long it has been since you were given a task. What I did that definitely stood out was always asking if there was anything else that you could help on. You should prove to your supervisor that you are willing to do more than you are asked. If you prove this to them, they may give you freedom in doing other things around the office. In my event planning role, my supervisor gave me the freedom to plan the annual Movie Night, which was one of the biggest events of the year. Also, remember to give feedback about your experiences or if there are any suggestions that you have on how to change things or make things better. Prove that you can be innovative and bring ideas to the table that can help improve the organization as a whole.
Cherish the moment.
Internships can be one of the biggest blessings to help get your career started. Depending on the internship, they can be very demanding and sometimes you will get caught up in the moment especially when things start to get busy. One of the things that I regret while working with the Wizards was not taking in the moments that I had on game day. Being in the arena as an intern was incredible and sometimes I would forget to enjoy every moment of it. If your workload seems to be repetitive, try to switch things up so that not every day looks the same. Walk into your office every morning with a fresh set of eyes and an open mindset. You never know when you will have another chance to do what you are doing now.
Last day tips.
On your last day, make sure that you write a thank you note to your supervisor as well as those that you got close to over your internship. If allowed, leave them a small gift to show your appreciation. Make sure that you are keeping in touch and reaching out periodically. They will be the ones to help the most if you are applying for a full-time position at that company in the future.
Till next time,