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How to Thrive as a New Intern

The first few weeks of your new internship have passed and you’re still learning the ropes. How do you know if you’re doing a good job? Are you interacting enough with your coworkers? Do you still feel like you’re treading carefully around the office? It can be hard navigating a new work environment that is familiar to everyone except you.

As a new intern at GovLoop, I have faced all these questions in my first few weeks. Here are some tips for tackling these worries and learning to thrive as the new intern.

  1. Introduce yourself. While this seems obvious at first, it is easy to find yourself settling into your office niche, where you may quickly forget to speak to the people beyond your workspace. It can be lonely to find yourself in a place where everyone already knows each other. During lunch–or even when you’re headed to grab another cup of coffee–stop and greet someone you haven’t spoken to before. Not only does this make the office feel smaller, but you feel less like a stranger amongst your coworkers.
  1. Ask Questions. The worst feeling is when you’re sitting at your desk, silently wondering what you should be doing. Not only does this waste time, but it’s not helping anyone. If you don’t know what to do, always ask. You also want to show that you are an effective communicator. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on an assignment. Even if you are confident, it is essential to ease the smallest of doubts before launching yourself into a task only to learn you are doing something incorrectly halfway in.
  1. Be flexible. While your intern description may list a finite amount of tasks, you are by no means bound to that list. An internship is a lot about learning different skills and making yourself accessible. If someone comes to you with an assignment or task you’re unfamiliar with, don’t immediately shy away. Figure out what they expect from you and do your research. It is important to show that you are willing to work hard, and contribute to the team, whatever task it may be.
  1. Set goals. One of the first questions my supervisor asked me was what did I want to get out of my internship? While this initially felt like an overwhelming question, it is an essential one. As an intern, you want to be able to think about what you want to achieve during the time that you are there. Be aware of your own professional growth and development. It can be easy to forget about long-term goals on a day-to-day basis. But, understanding what kind of skills and knowledge you want to have in the end can really help your daily performance and contribution to the team.

Being the new intern can be challenging but also rewarding. Remember that you have the opportunity to make a difference and contribute to your team’s mission. Like any new beginning, things take time and before you know it, you’ll be rocking that internship.

For more reading on navigating the internship, check out You Got the Position: Now What? Nailing that First Impression.

This post is part of GovLoop’s millennial blog series, First 5.

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