We have all been there. You start a new job in an unfamiliar environment with no clue where to start or how to involve yourself in the business. In a corporate environment, this can be especially difficult since things seem to be strictly professional and possibly mundane. Well, I am here to tell you that there is still fun to be had even in a grey office space!
Other Interns Will Be Your Rock
If you are lucky enough to be placed in a company that hires multiple interns per working term, you will immediately have access to others that share your concerns and uneasiness. This is a fantastic place to start building your social circle. The best thing I ever did in my internship was start to involve myself in the other interns' social functions. We were located on two different floors, and for that reason, the first couple of months, I was on my own since I wasn't sharing lunch with them or seeing them very often.
All of this changed when we had office renovations, and the floor plan had shifted. The main lunch café was now on my floor, and I was beginning to get prompts from the intern that helped onboard me that I should come to hang out with them at lunch. I am happy that I took her offer, and all I can do now is resent the fact that I hadn't made an effort to build relationships during the first couple of months.
As I began to open up to my fellow interns, the rest of the office began to change colour. I was creating real friendships with these people, and it was making my work days so much better. The positive effects from that carried on to my own mood and in turn, my ability to create more meaningful connections with other people in the office. It gave me the confidence I needed to begin branching out and involving myself in the business.
What to Do if You Are the Only Intern?
If you find yourself at a company where you are the sole intern and possibly the youngest person there, we have some new issues that need to be tackled. I was lucky enough to have others to bring me out of my shell, and then I was able to take it from there, but without that option, it falls to you to get yourself out there. It can be very challenging in a corporate environment as the layout of the office, and the atmosphere may be individualistic and sectioned off.
The one thing I can say to you is to be strong and make the first move. Nothing will come out of your internship if you keep to yourself out of fear. Use your manager as an entry point and mention that you want to branch out into any other departments that may need help. This is the best way for you to expand the areas you are exposed to. Likewise, this will expand the number of potential friends and connections you could make.
I understand that nervousness can deter someone from wanting to make that first move, but it’s worth it to try. If you need something to push you, think about how much you might regret from your Co-Op experience, if you didn't take advantage of your unique situation. Most people don't graduate with work experience or connections to refer to post-graduation.
If you can make an effort to establish connections with people and get out there and make the most of your Co-op experience, you will be leagues ahead!