Some of you may know by now that today is my last day as an intern at INTERNeX. You didn’t think you were the only one doing an internship, did you? Many Canadian students also have to complete an internship for their post-secondary education, like me :). I have been a Public Relations intern with INTERNeX for three months now. My main tasks were organizing events, conducting orientation seminars for you guys and doing some design work as well. The time here has gone by so quickly and it seems like just yesterday I was new to Vancouver!
I flew to British Columbia from Ontario on April 28, 2010, excited for what the next three months would bring. I had always heard that Vancouver was an amazing city, and that B.C. was an gorgeous place, so I had high expectations when I first arrived. Ontario is quite a flat province, so flat in fact that on a clear day, the CN tower can be seen from where I live – about 82 km away from Toronto. That being said, you can imagine what I was doing in the cab from the airport: Marveling at the province’s rolling mountains as my eyes darted from peak to peak. That was only the beginning of my most memorable summer experience.
Looking back, I remember dreading the thought of an unpaid internship. The idea of working full-time for a company seemed so unfair and cruel for a student that was already broke from paying tuition. What I didn’t know then, was that my summer internship would prove to be a priceless experience, and the rewards would be far greater than a paycheck.
When you start any new job (an internship is pretty much a job – a bridge between the classroom and a real work environment), you try to imagine what the experience will be like. Will you like the position? Will you get along with your coworkers? What is the office environment like? All of these thoughts raced through my head as I walked to work on May 3, 2010.
As I approached the door to the INTERNeX office, I realized that – as cheesy as it sounds – I was about to open a door to a new experience , and to a new chapter in my life. Internship Tip #1: Breathe.
When I stepped into the office that day, I was greeted with big smiles and polite hellos from the staff. This of course, was a relief, because entering a new work environment can be daunting. Internship Tip #2: Relax and Smile. My first week at INTERNeX was CRAZY, but in a great way. I was able to dive head first into a number of tasks and projects, each one teaching me about the nuts and bolts of the company’s core values and objectives. The more things I did, the more I learned, which brings me to Internship Tip #3: Show initiative. Learn about the company. If you’re done a project, ask for a new task. Help out a busy coworker, even take the office pet for a walk if everyone else is too busy. If you show initiative, this will lead to more responsibility in the future.
Of course when you first begin your internship, there can be a lot to learn. You may suffer a bit of information overload (like I did), so take your time. The company knows you are new. They’re there to help and answer any questions you may have, so when in doubt, ask. Throughout my internship each and everyone of the employees were to help me understand certain programs or visa requirements. All I had to do was ask :). Internship Tip #4: Communicate.
After learning about the business side of the company, I was able to get to the really fun stuff – events and promotions! Being in PR, this is what I was pumped about! Getting to organize events for clients, and promote partner trips was very exciting to me. My first events with INTERNeX were planning a pub night and a barbecue, both of which enabled me to meet program participants and learn about many different cultures. It was fun to hang out with INTERNeX candidates, but it was also great to hear about their experiences as well. One thing to mention was that because I worked for INTERNeX and became friends with their clients, I had to maintain a professional attitude. This is why Internship Tip #5 is important: Be Professional. Every intern’s duties vary, but you should always be punctual, dressed appropriately and be professional in everything you do.
If you’re looking to complete an internship or are currently completing an internship, remember Internship Tip #6: The Success Of Your Internship Depends On YOU! Someone is not going to hold your hand at work. If you really want to learn, you need plunge into the ocean of opportunity available at the office. There are endless ways to learn and grown personally and professionally in a work environment, so, will you take the plunge?
I can say that my internship experience has been amazing. I have made professional connections, developed friendships, and have learned a tremendous amount. I got to work alongside the owner of the company, the program managers, and other interns. Even Nala, the office dog, taught me something: If you’ve had a busy day, take a short walk outside to clear your head and stretch your legs. You’ll feel amazing. By following Internship Tip #7: Take Risks, you will find that if you push yourself, you will discover that you’re capable of more than you think ;).
If you’re looking to gain real-world, hands on experience, I would definitely recommend completing an internship. If you have a real sense of adventure, then doing an internship abroad makes the learning experience even more valuable. This world is a huge place. It’s full of great people, amazing history and beautiful landscapes. What are you waiting for!
Canada is such a beautiful country. Since being in British Columbia I have had the opportunity to see some beautiful, picture-perfect landscapes. My most recent and most-loved experience was a camping trip to Garibaldi Provincial Park. When you see the following picture, just know that what it looks like to you is nothing compared to when you’re standing in front of it. A picture says a thousand words but seeing with your own two eyes leaves you speechless. This is just one of the amazing places in Canada and I hope you get the chance to see it!
As my day slowly comes to an end, I still can’t believe my internship is almost over! I’ll miss the international staff, the busy atmosphere , even the gurgle of the water cooler beside my desk. But as one door closes, another one opens. Moving on is a simple thing, it’s what you leave behind that’s hard!
Goodluck to everyone in the future, and thank you to everyone at INTERNeX for a life-changing experience.