One of the most important goals that interns should focus on is soliciting feedback and advice.
Entering the workplace as an intern can be daunting. It is easy to become overwhelmed while working in a busy office with multiple moving parts, especially in a place like D.C. One of the most important goals that interns should focus on is soliciting feedback and advice not only from other employees at your internship site but also at the various networking events that D.C has to offer. While this can be intimidating at first, there are several steps that you can take to become more comfortable with this. This will get you top tier career and professional advice in no time!
Step 1: Introduce Yourself!
As I began my internship, I was extremely excited but also a little nervous, especially during my first couple of days. As I slowly started to get comfortable and settled into my new routine, I set out working on my goal of meeting people in the office in order to get career advice. I intern at the United States Marshals Service at the D.C. Superior Court Division and am interested in someday working in federal law enforcement. At first, it can be intimidating to introduce yourself as an intern, but it is important to realize that the people you are working with are all in your field of interest and each has their own unique career advice to offer. When meeting new people around your site, give a simple, but informative, introduction. I like to say where I am from, the university I attend, and that I am here in D.C. participating in The Washington Center program. This is an easy way to break the ice and get the conversation flowing.
Step 2: Ask Questions!
From here, start to engage in a dialogue with your new coworker. From my experience, people are more than willing to help you out if you simply take the initiative in asking for advice. Be attentive to what they are saying and, most importantly, ask follow up questions. This shows that you are genuinely interested and invested in learning which will cause the co-worker to also invest their time in you.
Some simple questions to try asking:
- “How did you get to your position today?”
- “What advice would you give to a college student looking to get into this field?”
- “What does the application process look like for your position?”
- “What kind of training do you have to go through?”
Through some of my interactions, I was able to receive advice on the many different paths one could take to land a job in federal law enforcement. I also learned about positions at other agencies that I was not even aware about. By reaching out to one of my supervisors, I was even able to set up an informational interview with an ATF Special Agent. By establishing these connections, you can also utilize them throughout the semester as they will continually be able to offer you new advice and more connections. There is truly nothing like getting first-hand advice from those who do the job day in and day out and if you never push yourself to talk to your new co-workers, you will never receive this valuable information.
From my experience, people are more than willing to help you out if you simply take the initiative in asking for advice.Salvatore Florio Jr.
Step 3: Attend Networking Events!
Not only can you receive valuable advice at your internship site, but I also have learned that attending networking events are an invaluable tool. At these events, reach out to all the professionals who are attending, even if you are not necessarily interested in their specific career because you never know the advice that they may be able to offer. For example, I attended a law enforcement networking event and started talking with a Sergeant for Arlington County PD. Through this interaction and expressing my interest in federal law enforcement, I learned that Arlington PD is such a well-known agency that multiple federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, and ATF recruit their officers from them every single year. Through talking with this officer, I learned of a new possible career path to consider that could help me reach my ultimate goal. This is just one specific example of the type of advice you can receive and it will be different depending on the field that you are interested in. Take advantage of these networking opportunities as there are a ton of them throughout the semester. By being relaxed and talking to these professionals, you will open up doors for yourself that you would have never known about before.
The good news is that there is truly no other place to receive better professional advice than in D.C. Take advantage of every opportunity that you will have throughout the semester and you will not regret it. If you put yourself out there, the advice that you leave with will stay with you as you continue on with your professional journey. Don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone; trust me, at the end of the semester you will not regret it!
About the AuthorMore Content by Salvatore Florio Jr.