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10 Tips To Achieving The Ideal Internship Mindset

The student-employee role played by the intern provides a unique opportunity to learn lessons about the workplace and yourself that will serve you throughout your career.  The tips that follow will prepare you with the mindset necessary to the make the most of that opportunity.
  1. Be an anthropologist, not a missionary.
    1. Be a curious, open, respectful, and nonjudgmental invited guest.
    2. Employees have strong opinions about people and things and you may develop strong opinions as well. It is very important not to voice strong opinions (like the missionary), take a side in an issue or make unsolicited suggestions, since you don’t know who may feel insulted or resentful.  Instead, cultivate your curiosity and focus your mental energies on understand all the factors that drive different opinions.
  2. Despite any promises and job or program descriptions, assume nothing and be prepared for anything
  3. Insist on not insisting on anything
  4. Set expectations based on reality – not the other way aroundAppreciate all opportunities and stay positive, positive, positive
  5. Do the best you can – that’s all you can do
  6. Be aware of yourself as an interconnected part of a community
  7. Welcome frustrating experiences
    1. Insist on learning from adversity
    2. Notice your thoughts and feelings in response to the various situations and interactions you experience. Learn what pushes your buttons and gets you to overreact
    3. The most important learning outcome is the ability to experience everything around you without fighting, fleeing or freezing.
  8. Those mundane tasks that seem beneath you are a great opportunity to distinguish yourself.
  9. Give and get the most out of every role and relationship
  10. Keep a journal of your experiences, challenges, and lessons learned.
Cultivating and maintaining these habits take time and discipline.  No human being can adhere to these standards for very long, especially under pressure when your survival instincts will be push you toward defensive action and reaction.  Its best to think of these as aspirational values that can keep you on course.
Whatever time and energy you commit to achieving this mindset wont be wasted since it stays pretty much the same throughout your career!