Guest blogger: Laura Peñalver, current intern at BrandMirror

As I conclude my internship here at BrandMirror, I find myself reflecting back on the experience as a whole. In addition to learning applicable skills in the marketing field, including how to effectively research, write a proposal, and create a social media campaign, I was lucky enough to watch and learn skills that will make me a better person overall, both in the work place and at home. I am excited to share what I have learned in hopes that these tips can help future interns succeed at their own endeavors. Here’s to a great experience!

1. Define your brand before someone else does it for you. As a job seeker, this is as essential to you as it is to a small business owner or entrepreneur.  You are entering the job market, figuring out your niche, and it is so important to be clear in establishing how you want to be represented. Determine what your strengths are and what words define you. Are you ambitious? Innovative? Reliable? Whatever the words are, make sure that message comes across clearly.

2. Dress for the job you want. Your job may be filing papers or working out of a basement. It does not matter. The first step to achieving your dream job is to dress the part. Leave your Jansport backpack at home and invest in a brief case or professional tote to transport your laptop. These little changes will give you confidence and remind you of your end goal. Each office is different, so communicate with the company before the internship begins and ask about what constitutes appropriate work attire.

3. Be willing to ask the hard questions. It is far easier to sit back and wait for someone else to ask them, but truth is, no one really wants to. Sometimes far too much time passes before the issue in question is brought up. Prove yourself to be an asset. Address the issues from the get-go and sidestep the aftermath when the questions are asked too late.  

4. Create and maintain relationships. Many of us find the first part pretty easy: shake hands, connect online, and end up with one more business card in your pocket. The trick is to continue that connection past the initial introduction. Try meeting with them for coffee, sending them an article you think they might find interesting, or congratulating them on a recent accomplishment. 

5. Accept constructive criticism. It is practically second nature to defend our own work, but sometimes we do it to a fault. Do not feel offended or hurt when your boss sends back your work with a list of corrections, and be open to changes. Being too defensive will only serve as a handicap by preventing you from seeing where you can improve.  

6. Make those around you feel valued. I can still remember glowing when my boss gave me cupcakes for my birthday, and that feeling absolutely made me appreciate my position in BrandMirror so much more. Making sure that those around you know that they are valued will create a stronger unit and a community fueled by mutual respect.

7.Be kind. You never know the impact your words may have on someone due to what they are going through or their past experiences. It is easy to forget when we are frustrated or have had a bad day, but there is nothing more important than maintaining a positive attitude and not taking it out on those around us.

8. Never undervalue your time. Some of us have a habit of downplaying how much work we put into projects. We shrug it off and underestimate the hours we spent staring at the glowing computer screen, maddeningly triple-checking to make sure every detail is perfect. Be proud of your work ethic. Your time is valuable and should be treated as such.  

9. Assume responsibility for your actions. If you are late on a project or forgot to send an email, be clear about it. It saves everybody the hassle of figuring out what the problem was and shows that you are responsible and not willing to play the blame-game.

10. Give. Give. Get. It may be a matter of days or a matter of years, but what you put out in the world will come back to you.  Speaking to points #6 and #7, when you are kind to others and make them feel valued, they remember that. When you need help, they will be there for you just as you were there for them. It is not fair to expect others to give and give and not get anything in return. Start the cycle and put good out in the world, and you will be amazed at the ways it comes back.  

Put these tips into action and see what a difference they make. There are never too many resources to help prepare you for an internship, and a book that I found especially helpful before I embarked on my journey with BrandMirror was “Starting Work: for Interns, New Hires, and Summer Associates (100 Things You Need to Know)” by Mary Crane (pictured above). Thank you for reading, and good luck!

Laura is a junior at the College of William and Mary pursuing a degree in Marketing with a Hispanic Studies Minor and is also a current intern at BrandMirror. She is an active member of the volunteer fraternity on campus where she helps organize philanthropic events and has a passion for travel, hoping to study abroad next spring.