A good manager wants you to grow professionally; he or she will challenge you intentionally and unintentionally. How a professional deals with challenges is often how a boss or co-worker will later reflect on your professional style – it’s what can set you apart from just the next intern and get you hired.
Challenges can pop up at any point in time – they aren’t predictable like the back-and-forth momentum of a pirate ship ride. Typically, an internship is a relatively smooth ride of constant learning, but every so often there is an unexpected dip in the steady stream and you are faced with a challenge. The last month of my internship has been similar to a Log Ride – I’ve been around long enough that intern life is relatively smooth sailing but because I have been around, I am trusted more and often unexpectedly thrown a challenge.
The Last Month: The Log Ride
Throughout all the challenges I have faced during my internship, I’ve learned two important lessons– always take immediate ownership and never make excuses.
I am always excited by a new project or challenge – I love having creative freedom and the chance to learn a new skill or conquer a unique project. I have also made it a habit to ask for as much feedback as possible along the way to make sure that I understand where I am succeeding and where I am struggling.
However, it is difficult sometimes to take a lot of negative feedback; no one likes being told that they have messed up. Everyone makes excuses every once in a while: “I didn’t have enough time” or “I wasn’t sure what you meant by that.” But I have come to realize that using excuses in response to negative criticism makes it seem like you are too lazy to communicate your needs to conquer a challenge (i.e. more time or more directions). For example, a few times I haven’t had the time to complete a challenge with the meticulous detail I typically attack assignments with. However, I have found that if I mention that I needed more time to my bosses, they will usually ask why I didn’t ask for it.
Throughout my internship, I started to realize that when I took full ownership of a challenge from the beginning, I actually made fewer mistakes. If the challenge was mine and mine alone, it was up to me to make sure I conquered it – no external forces would stop me. I stopped shortchanging myself by making excuses and started to learn and grow professionally even more. As a result, I learned how to manage projects on my own, resolve communications issues and engage in client relations.
Don’t just sail through the last month of your internship, use it as an opportunity to take complete ownership of your challenges (if you haven’t already) and continue to grow as a professional.
Guest writer Nicole Raisch is a public relations professional from Seattle, WA. She is a recent Gonzaga University alumni with a diverse background including sports, nonprofit, lifestyle, hospitality and commodities PR. Nicole is adept at digital engagement and telling stories. She is hoping to land a full-time PR position in Washington D.C. in January. Follow Nicole on twitter @nicoleraisch and check out her blog.