Real World Through the Eyes of an Intern

Growing up, most of us thought we had a pretty good knowledge of how the world worked. The advice given from our parents and older siblings was always heard but not often listened to. Even as we started college, we all thought we knew a lot about the real world and life. Through experiences and circumstances, we quickly learned this wasn’t always true. However, arguably the best way to learn is through hands-on experiences, and thus we at Valley believe having an internship truly taught us these things….

Step out of your comfort zone. You won’t grow unless you do.

It’s an uncomfortable reality that the things we don’t want to do are often the things we need to do most. Reach out to higher-ups when you have questions. Send that email to the employer you want to work for. Go out of your way to introduce yourself to others, even when you could easily stay to yourself. Valley can’t stress it enough that you never know what good comes from putting yourself out there. We get it, it’s uncomfortable, but it will force you to grow as a person.

Connections are crucial.

CRUCIAL. This goes back to number one, you never know who you’re going to meet and who is going to help set you up for your next internship or job. Go out of your way to be professional and network with as many people you can, young and old. This small 2-minute connection could be someone who happens to know someone at your dream company and could put in a good word for you – you never know.

Going above and beyond is expected, not laughed at.

In high school, and even college sometimes, we’d internally laugh at the person who sat front row in class and asked all of the questions or was incredibly involved in activities. In the real world, this isn’t laughed at, this is expected. You’re going to be expected to be giving your job your all at every moment, so get used to working hard and doing things excellently, not just well.

You’re only going to make it if you want it.

You need to be passionate about whatever it is you choose to do as a career. Chances are your first job is going to pay terribly and you’re going to hate waking up with the sun each morning. Waking up early may never get easier, but if you have a job you absolutely love, you’re going to make it through the tough times that are inevitably going to come.

More people want you to succeed than they do to fail.

Even if you don’t get the internship you have dreamed about, doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you or your experiences, it likely just wasn’t the best fit for the company at the time. Believe it or not, most people don’t want to see young people fail. Of course there are exceptions, but most adults want to do what they can to help your journey as someone probably did for them. So reach out, make connections and ask for guidance when you need it!

Comparing yourself to others won’t make you better.

Just because the girl that you have every class with got an internship as a sophomore doesn’t mean you are any less skilled because you didn’t have one. Everyone works toward their career at different paces and has different strengths. Focus on yourself and your own goals instead of trying to keep up with someone else’s.

Balance your days.

As you grow up, you’re only going to have more and more responsibilities through work, your family, your friends, your personal life, etc. It is so important to learn to balance things now and have a good idea of what your priorities are so you can handle more when you’re really faced with responsibilities.

Create your own opportunities.

While adults are very willing to help you as best they can to get to your career goals, no one is going to hold your hand and give you everything. You need to see opportunities when they’re presented and create your own when they’re not. Sure, maybe the job you want doesn’t have an opening right now. Don’t sit back and mope and wait for it to open – do everything you can to better your skills on your own to make you better for the job. A dream isn’t just going to happen – work for it.

Life is hard. There isn’t a how-to manual to go through your days and your career dreams certainly aren’t going to come to fruition simply because you want them to. In all things be professional, connect with people, and be confident in yourself.