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If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts throughout the summer (and now into the fall) you’ll see that I often mention how so much learning happens outside of the classroom. Internships, for example, allow students to be a part of the workforce and get hands-on experience before they graduate. While I understand the important roles school and education play in our lives, it should be noted that learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom.

You’re dressed, but is it to impress?

While in college you’re basically able to show up in whatever you want. Interning is different. You don’t get to have comfy days with t-shirts and sweatshirts. While you’re at work, you must follow the dress code every day. This also applies for interviews and beyond. Make sure that everyone who sees you can tell that you’re there for a reason.

The handshake

It wasn’t until this semester that I had a professor talk about how important handshakes are when coming into the business world. A good handshake can say a lot about you, and a bad one can say just as much. Make sure that you are firm, but not too firm. Maintain eye contact and make sure you say your name clearly for the other person.

Sometimes you shouldn’t “just give an answer”

In class, there are times when guesses are all you can offer. This doesn’t work in the business world. If you don’t know something or need help, ask. Getting the answers so you can do it right the first time is so much better than showing your supervisor something you did completely wrong.

You don’t get to resubmit big projects

Throughout school, we’ve all made mistakes and taken a few bad grades here and there. With some teachers, resubmitting could be an option. Even though it’s nice to be able to turn in better work to receive a different grade, this doesn’t apply during your internship. While interning you will be given projects to work on and you need to do your best the first time around. Don’t bet on the fact that you “can do better next time.”

Show up

School sometimes comes with the connotation that you can show up when you want to, or call in sick anytime you want to stay home and sleep. When starting a job or interning, being there is your priority. This doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed a few sick days, but being there should always come first. You made the commitment to work and need to prove you got the job for a reason, which you can’t do if you don’t show up.

Everything is useful

We’ve all been in that position where you’re studying one thing, but then end up in a class that has no correlation to what you want to do. While interning there will be many times that you’ll do things you never thought you’d be doing, but everything comes with a learning opportunity. Take every challenge you’re given and don’t just try to “get through it.” Try to learn and grow along the way.

Internships are great for college students to see a preview of what their future can hold. Make sure you’re taking mental notes along the way to remember what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. We all know school is important, but there’s so much to learn outside the classroom too.

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