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This week, BlackEnterprise.com chronicles real-life internship experiences, including lessons, challenges, and triumphs of professionals in a range of careers. Take a page from these professionals’ books to find success in your internship or evaluate the internships your company offers:
Cameron Weathers is new to the internship game, however, new doesn’t mean he isn’t on his grind. As an intern for the City of Memphis Community Affairs Office, he had already participated in summer programs at JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Google.
Here, Weathers recounts a typical day as a newbie intern in city government, giving a glimpse into his learning experience and how he developed a respect and love for community and city government work.
I usually get to the office on time. My office is in the back, and my manager and her administrative assistant have offices in the front, so on the way to my office I greet both of them. My manager is very fun and energetic and always has a smile on her face. In the morning, she briefs me about any meetings that she wants me to attend with her or shares any updates she has for me concerning my project or community events.
She’s worked a lot with community groups, so she’s always appearing at various functions and has a very diverse network. Sometimes, she invites me to attend programs with her, so I tag along.
Anyway, after chatting with her, I visit the administrative assistant. She always has her Gospel music playing, which wakes me up a little more, along with her encouraging and energetic attitude. I love visiting her. Afterwards, I go to my office, check my e-mails and start working.
So far, I’ve been able to assist with some pretty big community projects, and have also been able to lead initiatives, conduct meetings and work alongside my manager to execute projects. I initially did not know what to expect coming into this internship, so far, I’ve had some great experiences working on these projects and got a real glimpse into city politics.
It’s about to be lunchtime soon, so my stomach is beginning to growl. In between work, I turn on my Pandora and begin to vibe while working on my current project. I may go get a snack from the break room to hold me over until it’s time to go get lunch.
After engaging in a 10-minute discussion about food and restaurants after we’ve finished eating lunch—two of our favorite office conversation subjects— my co-workers and I wind down and continue working. I then take a moment to chat with another one of the interns, share information about our individual projects, and then we quickly get back to work.
In the beginning, I would always work until the clock hit 5 p.m., but it seems everyone else started to pack up around 4:45 or 4:50. At around 4:55, I got a call from the administrative assistant, and she would normally make a joke along the lines of “I know you’re working hard back there, but I don’t want them to turn the lights out on you because we’re about to leave you here.” After I pack up, I see everyone else in the lobby waiting on me so that they could lock up and leave. Sometimes, my boss would stay a bit longer, but I always made an effort to be out of the office by 5. That traffic, though—horrible.
Weathers’ Quick Tips:
Take advantage of any and every opportunity presented to you. If you have the chance to work with your boss or other supervisors, don’t let it pass you by and be a sponge.
Do a lot of research, ask questions, and make your experience worth the while. It wouldn’t be beneficial to secure an internship and not learn anything from the experience.
Make as many connections as you can, learn as much as you can and experience as much as you can. Leave your position with no regrets.
For employers, thoroughly engage and interact with your intern. Provide them with as many opportunities to learn and to make an impact as possible. Connect with your intern on a deeper level to possibly become a mentor or to make a strong impact in their lives.
For more information on internship opportunities with the City of Memphis, visit CityofMemphis.org.