Making the Most of Your Summer Internship: Keep an Open Mind

By Elizabeth Zimmerman

So you landed your dream summer internship, but how can you make the most of it? One of the most important lessons I learned during my summer internship experience is to keep an open mind throughout all parts of the experience.

My first day at my internship, I was thrust into a series of “onboarding” sessions to help me get a feel for the agency and for the clients who I would be working with for the duration of my 12-week internship. Throughout the majority of my sessions, I was both overwhelmed and excited – especially when I discovered I would get to touch so many of the agency’s major accounts. However, when I found out that I would spend hours with an unfamiliar client, I wasn’t nearly as excited as I was when I found out that I would get to work on major consumer product goods accounts that had way more name recognition.

Amazingly throughout the course of the summer, the hours I got to work on the unfamiliar client ended up being some of my favorites. The account services team I worked with was so energetic and fun, and the client was so appreciative and receptive to my work. It was definitely a rewarding experience. I wish I had kept a more open mind at the beginning of my internship because I think I would have had an even better experience with the client and the team from the very start, instead of the weeks it took for me to warm up to them.

Keeping an open mind also helped me when it came to making meaningful connections and relationships at my job site. The internship agency placed a strong emphasis on cultivating relationships between their interns and every department (media planning/buying, client engagement, creative, etc.) so I made sure to make the most of these meetings. Even though I didn’t necessarily have an interest in working in each of these areas, going into these meetings with an open mind and a willingness to learn from anyone and everyone helped me to learn more about potential career opportunities. It also helped me to understand how the work that I was doing as an intern could be applied to each area of the agency.

An internship is a learning opportunity — not only about the industry, but also about you. Keeping an open mind and having a constant willingness to learn every day helped me to succeed at my internship and helped me to discern the kinds of work that I want to pursue in the future.

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