Let me offer you a few definitions of the word INTERN:
n. A student or recent graduate undergoing supervised practical training. (thefreedictionary.com)
n. People who are hired to do menial monotonous work that you couldn’t pay people people to do long term because they would quit (urbandicitonary.com)
Okay, so I think we all go into an internship hoping that it fits more closely to the first definition I provided. But, I think our experience ends up being a combination of the two. We still do not have enough knowledge to do the work of a paid employee, but we are there to learn, so our advisors have to find a happy medium between observing and doing.
I am very pleased to say that during my entire internship at MediMedia Managed Markets, a pharmaceutical internship in Yardley, PA, I did not ONCE have to get anyone coffee. I did, however, learn to use the copy machine, quite efficiently. How cliche, I know! But, that was okay with me. I went into this internship wanting to be the Go-To Girl: The girl that people could count on to get the job done, no matter how big, how small, how complicated, or how time-consuming.
I would start every day by going directly to my advisor, and asking if there was anything I could help with. Some days he had tasks for me. Other days he told me to keep myself busy. If he didn’t have anything, I would walk around the office and ask familiar faces if there was anything I could help with. Usually the editorial department or another copywriter would have something for me to do. Sometimes mass emails would be sent out to the whole advertising department, offering my help. During my time with MediMedia, I annotated, researched, wrote the weekly newsletter, made copies, organized file cabinets, sat in on meetings, wrote manuscripts for the art department, converted files into PDFs, made charts, edited, and wrote presentation scripts. I did a little bit of everything, hoping I would make a few people’s lives easier and hoping that I would walk away with more knowledge than I started. I think it’s fair to say that with all of this experience, long gone are the days that meetings sound like gibberish.
After my time as an intern, let me offer you my own definition of the word:
n. A person who works unpaid at a company, who is eager to gain real world experience and does everything he or she can to improve and learn (even when the tasks are small and sometimes time-filling), all in the hope of getting a job at the end of their college career.