I started my internship on the Front End Development team at Ancestry.com in May of 2013, and during the past 10 months I have developed skills and capabilities that I never dreamed of. Below are a few insights I have gained throughout my experience on how to make an internship successful.
Before I began interning, I felt fully capable of completing any task handed my way. However, within my first week I realized that I was in way over my head. I needed some ‘babysitting’ at first, which I’m sure was frustrating to my mentor, but luckily he was patient and willing to answer my questions. While it was nice to be on the receiving end of patience, nothing helped me grow more than the feedback and criticism I received. I chose to welcome criticism, and I appreciated being held to the same standards as the rest of my team. Sure, I may have needed some babysitting at first – but I never wanted to be treated like a baby. It is important to look at feedback from a learning perspective. Accepting criticism is a great opportunity to learn and rise to new challenges.
Take Ownership and Prove Yourself
When I started my internship, I expected to be given a pile of dusty projects that had been sitting on the shelf for too long. Sure enough, I completed some pretty monotonous tasks. But, by looking at each project as an investment, I was able to research and master different concepts. Taking ownership over a seemingly futile task showed my passion and devotion to the job, and allowed me to prove myself. Overtime, I took on more challenging projects that were important both to my team and to the company. While I definitely prefer these projects to the dusty ones, each project contributed to my growth and development.
Make Connections and Take Advantage of Opportunities
My internship marks the beginning of my career, and it is important for me to take advantage of opportunities provided and network with others. When I started interning, my team was planning a trip to the San Francisco office. I was shocked when I was invited to join the team, and happily took advantage of the opportunity. Not only did this experience help me connect with my teammates, it helped me connect with Ancestry.com employees both in Provo and in San Francisco. This trip, as well as many other company events and team morale activities have helped me establish connections that will be useful throughout my career.
I think that every part of an internship can be taken advantage of and learned from. In this post, I only mention a few of the things that I found most beneficial and valuable, but I would love to hear your thoughts. What have you found helpful in taking advantage of your internship? Please share in the comments below!
About Bailey Stewart
Bailey has worked at Ancestry.com as an intern on the Front End Development team since May 2013. She is a senior at Brigham Young University majoring in Information Systems, and plans to graduate this April. When she's not at work she enjoys hiking, boating, and schooling her husband in basketball.