The three of us, Hannah, Oliver and I (Sarah-Grace, we're left to right in the photo), spent the summer interning at one of the best places in Chattanooga, the Chamber.
Here, we each share our top three takeaways from an incredible learning experience at the Chamber.
School: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Minors: Political Science, Women’s Studies
Hometown: Greensboro, N.C.
1. Pay attention to details.
While I’m naturally detail oriented, I still think this is a crucial skill for new internships and new jobs. Being new to something, details can get lost and the easiest way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to pay extra close attention to them. If you’re given a task or your boss is talking to you, take notes so you remember the small details.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
The best and most efficient way to learn is to ask questions, ask for advice and ask for guidance. It can be intimidating at first because we, as interns, don’t want to look like we don’t know what we’re doing, but that’s the point of being an intern — to learn. It’s so much better to ask and get help than to try to do it yourself without knowing what you’re doing. We’re interns, so we’re expected to have questions.
3. Make it count.
I’ve learned more during my time here than I ever thought possible and it’s by far been one of the best experiences of my life thus far. Always say yes because you never know where it will lead. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone because I said yes to things I was unsure about. I can’t explain how thankful I am for every task and opportunity I’ve been given here and as a result, how much I have learned. Being exposed to all of the people that the Chamber helps every day is truly inspiring. I can’t thank the people here enough for working with me and helping me throughout my time here.
School: Valdosta State University
Minor: Advertising and Promotions
Hometown: Decatur, IL.
1. Communication is key.
Communication is everything when it comes to an effective work environment. It’s important to be clear, quick and concise when communicating. Proper communication makes everyone’s job easier and can reduce stress. Projects are more efficient when everyone is on the same page. A good communication channel helps minimize issues and ensures projects are completed on time.
2. Be flexible.
More than once, I was thrown into the middle of a big upcoming event or project. I learned to jump right in and go with it. Going with the flow and keeping an open mind made it more manageable to complete assignments and tasks.
3. Read your emails.
Almost daily, someone emails the company about leftover food. If you don't read it in time, it's too late and there's no food left. But really, a lot of important information is sent out via email and as stated in no. 1, communication is super important.
Economic Development Intern
School: Covenant College
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
1. Get things done for people who ask you to do things.
Seems simple, right? Apparently, I don’t have the hang of it yet. At college, any failure to get things done only affects you and your grades. In this internship, even something like being five minutes late can mess up someone else’s schedule a lot. I’m learning that being consistent and trustworthy is just as important and maybe more so than any spectacular, above-and-beyond work you do. Example of how I am still learning this one: I am writing this about a week after the deadline (sorry, Sarah-Grace.)
2. Know your skills, and let others know.
Everyone has a skillset, and everyone is different. If someone asks you to do something and you’re either not sure if you can do it, or not sure how good it will be, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Internships are for learning, not just to show off what you already know. I am not the strongest writer; I feel that my writing doesn’t sound professional enough. So if asked to write something important, I try to make sure it's in well before the deadline so I can ask for editing help.
3. Keep an extra dress shirt in the car.
It’s summer, it’s hot, I sweat. Also get a light sports coat that doesn’t make you hellaciously hot if you have to stand outside for more than 5 minutes. This is only really applicable to summer internships, but feel free to replace “extra dress shirt” with “parka” for winter internships.